On Beijing Hosting 2022 *Winter* Olympics [Cough]

♠ Posted by Emmanuel in , at 2/04/2015 09:59:00 AM
If Beijing hosts the 2022 Winter Olympics, we'll have fat guys in Speedos instead.
One of the things global warming makes me ponder is the fate of the Winter Olympics. In a world where the average temperature keeps rising, there may come a time when "winter" is the stuff of history books. Modeling future climate change, only 6 out the previous Winter Olympics venues will qualify as "climate reliable" near the end of the century. Vancouver was the warmest of all time, with Sochi not that far behind.

Now we have another contender for these, er, "Temperate Olympics": Beijing. This is not a typo--the host of the 2008 Summer Olympics is (after Stockholm, Sweden dropped out of the running) bidding to become the first city to host both events.  Although the weather may not cooperate given the whimsies of global warming phenomena and smog remains a persistent problem, Beijing is otherwise well-suited to host the 2022 Winter Olympics: the Chinese love putting on these marquee events, few dare protest about the cost of putting on these games in an authoritarian regime, and the facilities and experience hosting these things remain from 2008:
At first glance, Beijing's quest to host the 2022 Winter Olympics may sound, well, a bit quixotic. After all, the city's skies are notoriously smoggy, its main proposed ski venue is a five-hour drive northwest of the city center, and the mountains there receive, bid organizers acknowledge, about 8 inches of snow annually.

But over the last year, Beijing's competition — once seen as formidable — has melted away. Cost concerns and faltering public support prompted pullbacks by Oslo; Stockholm; Munich, Germany; and Krakow, Poland. The Ukrainian city of Lviv also had to bow out amid the military, political and economic crises in that country.
Supposed reforms have come too late for this authoritarian's showcase as it's China versus Kazakhstan:
"Very few people in the IOC, and in the wider sports community, see the choice between Almaty and Beijing as particularly desirable on any count," said John J. MacAloon, a University of Chicago anthropologist and historian who has studied the Olympics extensively.

The IOC last month adopted a package of reforms aimed at reducing costs for host cities and making the process more flexible while requiring greater protections for human rights, labor and the environment. That's attracted a wealth of interest in bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, but "unfortunately the reforms were not passed quickly enough to produce a wider field for 2022," MacAloon said. "So the IOC is stuck."
My bet is that the Kazakhs will not go all-in on seeking to host this event since they are, like Russia,  currently being hammered by declining oil prices. So, as much as I would have liked the Almaty Games to come through, the smart money is definitely on Beijing at the moment. The China Daily is certainly not letting up on the PR push:
Beijing’s enthusiasm for winter activities is soaring as the mercury plummets, industry insiders agree. China’s 2022 Winter Olympics bid has added fuel to the fire. But it is far from the only reason residents are discovering new ways in which ice is nice. Wukesong Ice World Sports Land was over capacity when it opened Asia’s largest skating rink in early December. Lines snaked outside the arena — which includes an outdoor rink that will be the city’s only outside rink open during the summer, thanks to Dutch technology — during the free-admission period.

On the first day tickets were sold in early December, about 2,600 people visited the arena, which has a 900-skater capacity. “We expected a lot of people,” says Dong Xiaoyuan, media marketing supervisor at Beijing Wukesong Arena Management. “But far more came than we’d imagined.”
Since we've had to truck in snow the past two "Winter Olympics," I don't really see why we shouldn't have the 2042 Dubai Winter Olympics. To paraphrase Dick Cheney, that Winter Olympic hosts don't have snow doesn't matter when we have the technology to manufacture it ahead of time.

Old man winter, we hardly knew ye.