Summer Olympics 2008 Host Beijing Awarded 2022 Winter Games
RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:
And the winner is...
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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: The International Olympic Committee has the honor to announce the host city of the Olympic Winter Games 2022 - Beijing.
MONTAGNE: Yes, Beijing, host of the 2008 summer games will now get the honors for the 2022 Winter Olympics as well, the first city to ever host both summer and winter games. NPR's Anthony Kuhn is in Beijing and joins us now. Good morning.
ANTHONY KUHN, BYLINE: Good morning, Renee.
MONTAGNE: And must be pretty exciting there today.
KUHN: Well, of course Olympic delegations and athletes and people on the streets are jumping up and down on television. But I think there really is a sense of excitement and a sense of willingness to host these games and to show off the incredible progress China has made. But there's another level to it. It's a diplomatic objective of China to host all sorts of events and through them to win friends and influence people.
MONTAGNE: Well, the 2008 summer games were considered a huge success. Everyone remembers the spectacular opening ceremony. But winter games, interesting, because you don't really think of Beijing as a real snowy place.
KUHN: Indeed. It gets really dry here - bone dry in winter. And so they're going to have to make a lot of the snow, and that was one concern that environmental groups had that making all the snow would strain the scarce water resources in the area. But the government insists that there will be lots of nice, soft, powder on the slopes. And that's going to be 120 miles to the northwest in a separate city called Zhangjiakou. And they're going to build a high-speed railway just to shuttle people back and forth.
MONTAGNE: Although, one other concern would seem to be air quality. In the run-up to the 2008 games, there were real serious concerns about air quality, the pollution there, the smog. The government took all sorts of measures, including shutting down polluting factories. What about 2022?
KUHN: Let's face it. The air here can be hazardous and extremely unhealthy in winter because of coal-burning factories and all that. But the government has shown again and again for many events that it is willing to shut down industry and keep cars off the roads not just in Beijing, but in many surrounding provinces. And China's president went on the air in a statement and said they will stick to their promises, and if it means providing clean air, they will do what they have to. They will mobilize society to get it done.
MONTAGNE: Well, Anthony, thanks very much.
KUHN: You're sure welcome, Renee.
MONTAGNE: NPR's Anthony Kuhn speaking to us from Beijing, which has just been awarded the Winter Olympic Games for 2022. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.