Nothing would have made me happier than knowing the International Olympic Committee has awarded the 2022 Winter Olympic Games to Beijing at its 128th session in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
Fourteen years ago, I was in Moscow covering the IOC's 112th session where I witnessed Beijing's successful bid for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games. Seven years later, I covered the 2008 Olympic Games as an accredited journalist.
Indeed, Beijing got a facelift, in many aspects, as the 2008 Games' host. As it becomes the first city ever to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics, I couldn't help wondering what to expect from the Games this time. Here is my wish list:
Permanent blue skies
Efforts to curb pollutions ahead of the 2008 Games dramatically improved the air quality in Beijing, at least for a while. I still remember how clear the sky was during the 2008 Paralympic Games that opened two weeks after the Olympic Games ended. Sadly, pollution continued to haunt Beijing afterwards, to a large extent neutralizing the 2008 efforts.
Once again, expectations are high that staging the Winter Olympic Games will push Beijing to reduce pollution and improve the air quality more effectively.
Such efforts will not only be made in Beijing but in neighboring Hebei province and Tianjin municipality as well, as suggested by a development action plan to integrate the three places. Hopefully, blue skies will become a regular feature even after the Games.Better transportation
Although Beijing is the host city of the 2022 Winter Games, Chongli county of Zhangjiakou in Hebei will host some of the snow events. I was there once a couple of years ago for skiing, and I had to spend 10 long hours on a congested winding road in the mountains on my way back because the highway was closed after heavy snow.
The experience stopped me from making another attempt to go skiing in Chongli, which I believe boasted the best facilities for winter sports in North China at that time. It is a pleasure to learn that a high-speed railway linking Beijing and Zhangjiakou is in the works, shortening the travel time from an average 4 hours to 50 minutes.
A boost for winter sports
China has shown its power in the Summer Olympics by topping the gold medal tally in Beijing. It has never dropped out of the top-three list since the Sydney 2000 Games. However, its best performance in the Winter Olympics was in the Vancouver 2010 Games where it was placed 7th in the medal standing with five golds.
As the host, China will make an all-out effort to improve its performance in 2022 by securing the best resources, talents and prizes. And it would be interesting to see whether China can break into the top three on the medal tally.
Another spectacular opening ceremony
On Aug, 8, 2008, film director Zhang Yimou wowed the world with a breathtaking opening ceremony, making it one of the most mesmerizing moments of the 2008 Beijing Games. There is a good reason to expect a similar great show.Source: goo.gl/IkxGsF