Kuala Lumpur (AFP) – Beijing on Friday narrowly won an IOC vote for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games that secured its place in sporting history.
The Chinese capital beat Almaty in Kazakhstan by just 44 votes to 40, with one abstention, to become the first city to be awarded the summer and winter Games.
Beijing held the summer Olympics in 2008 in what was then seen as China sealing its place on the world stage as an emerging superpower.
This time it had been the strong favourite, presenting itself as a safe pair of hands against underdog Almaty.
“We represent the safest and most realistic choice,” said Beijing’s mayor Wang Anshun.
But the former capital of the Central Asian republic ate into China’s support on the International Olympic Committee with an impressive “Keeping It Real” campaign that played on Beijing’s reliance on artificial snow and the vast distances between its venues.
China’s basketball legend Yao Ming and Sports Minister Liu Peng leaped to their feet in joy when IOC president Thomas Bach announced the result at a special session in Kuala Lumpur.
IOC director general Christophe De Kepper said there were doubts about the “integrity” of the results given by the tablets used for the vote.
But it held up the result and in Beijing performers and uniformed volunteers also erupted into dancing and flag-waving joy as the Chinese capital was named.