1 Aug 2015

Beijing awarded 2022 Winter Olympics

9:06 am on 1 August 2015

Beijing has been chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, becoming the first city to be awarded both the summer and winter Games.

New Zealand men's 4 man bobsleigh in action during the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City in Utah.

New Zealand men's 4 man bobsleigh in action during the 2002 Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City in Utah. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Chinese capital beat Kazakhstan's Almaty in a secret ballot of 85 IOC members held at a convention centre in downtown Kuala Lumpur in a decision that drew immediate criticism from human rights activists.

The ballot was conducted twice, first electronically and then by paper after it was discovered the electronic system had malfunctioned.

The IOC said Beijing won a surprisingly close vote, 44-40, with one abstention.

"Just as with the Beijing 2008 Summer Games, the Olympic Family has put its faith in Beijing again to deliver the athlete-centred, sustainable and economical Games we have promised," the Beijing Bid Committee said in a statement.

"This will be a memorable event at the foot of the Great Wall for the whole Olympic Family, the athletes and the spectators that will further enhance the tremendous potential to grow winter sports in our country, in Asia and around the world."

Despite concerns about a lack of natural snow in the city's distant mountains, and protests from human rights groups, Beijing had been the clear favourite to win the vote after it successfully hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics.

The high-powered Chinese delegation assured IOC members that Beijing was the safe choice because it had already proved it could stage the Games and said it would take winter sports into the backyard of the world's most populated country.

The decision to go with China again reaffirmed the shifting power-base of world sport, with East Asia now poised to host three successive Olympics.

South Korea's Pyeongchang will host the 2018 Winter Games and Tokyo the 2020 Summer Olympics.

But the choice, while expected, was more a reflection of the economic problems in the rest of the world rather than an overwhelming desire to stick with the same region.

The four European candidates who originally entered the 2022 race all dropped out, citing concerns about the escalating costs of staging the Olympics, prompting the IOC to introduce a raft of reforms to cut costs and attract more bidders in the future.

Kazakhstan, a former Soviet state, pitched itself as a model for future hosts, embracing all the new reforms with a low-cost bid in a city which already has most of the facilities in place after hosting the 2011 Asian Winter Games.

Bidding to become the first majority Muslim country to stage the Olympics, the oil-rich Central Asian country also provided assurances that they had the money to pay for the Games.

"We're feeling ok. We did our best," said Andrey Kryukov, the vice chairman of Almaty's bid team."

"Our bid is perfect."

"The decision has been done by the IOC... this is a competition, somebody wins, somebody loses."