It was a close vote, but Beijing was just selected to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The Chinese capital beat out Almaty, Kazakhstan 44 to 40 in an International Olympic Committee ballot today in Kuala Lumpur. The decision puts Beijing in the unique position of being the first city ever chosen to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. Some of the factors that helped push the city over the top include its plan to reuse some of its existing infrastructure from the 2008 Summer Olympics like Herzog and de Meuron’s famous Bird’s Nest stadium and the award-winning Watercube, as well as talk of a new high-speed rail system that would benefit the area well after the games are over.

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Photo: Wikimedia Commons

“Summer or Winter Games, they all represent the Olympic ideals,” famed Chinese basketball player Yao Ming said at a news conference before the Olympic Committee vote. “It’s the right time, the perfect time, for the Olympics to return to Beijing.”

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Entitled “Joyful Rendezvous Upon Pure Ice and Snow,” Beijing’s bid was helped by the success of its 2008 Summer Olympics and existing architecture and infrastructure from those events. The city dished out $40 billion to construct many elaborate structures for the Summer Games, so we’re glad to hear they will be reusing some of them in 2022.

One thing that is not pre-existing in Beijing, however, is snow. The Chinese have plans to make the powdery stuff for events like skiing and snowboarding, which will be held in Yanqing, which is about 40 miles from the city center and Zhangjiakou, which is about 90 miles away. Officials proposed to transport athletes to these locations via a to-be-constructed high-speed rail system that they say could reach Zhangjiakou from Beijing in less than an hour.

Some locals are also hopeful Beijing’s Olympic win will influence the government to devote more resources towards improving its air quality, which is currently a serious health threat. Here’s to cleaner air in Beijing by 2022?

Via The New York Times