As selection day nears, Beijing says commutes, snow pose no problem

Updated: 2015-07-29 11:22

By Sun Xiaochen in Kuala Lumpur(China Daily)

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With the selection of the 2022 Winter Olympics' host city around the corner, Beijing has eased concerns about transportation as well as the lack of natural snowfall at its proposed venues, promising a successful Games.

After Beijing proposed hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in three areas, including in Zhangjiakou, Hebei province, some media raised concerns about the potential inconvenience of the commute. However, the Beijing bid committee assured Olympics officials that a high-speed railway would address the problem.

"The proposed high-speed railway will not only serve as a transportation tool during the Games but also a mobile workplace for all accredited media, with necessary equipment and services on board," said Wang Hui, deputy secretary-general and spokeswoman for the Beijing 2022 bid committee, on Tuesday. Wang made her comments in Kuala Lumpur, where the International Olympic Committee is meeting.

Beijing, along with Zhangjiakou, is competing against Almaty, Kazakhstan, to host the 2022 Winter Games. The winner will be selected on Friday at the 128th IOC session in the Malaysian capital.

Under Beijing's plan, all the ice sports would be in central Beijing, while skiing events would be held in northwest Beijing's Yanqing county and Chongli county in Zhangjiakou, which is about 200 kilometers northwest of the nation's capital.

The three zones would be connected by an intercity high-speed railway, which is under construction and is scheduled to be completed by 2019 as part of the integrated and coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.

The train trip from central Beijing to Chongli county will take about 50 minutes. The National Development and Reform Commission, the developer of the railway, said the train would not make any stops between stations during the Games.

"For athletes, it will need only 70 minutes from the athlete's village in Beijing to the counterpart venue in Chongli, plus shuttle bus travel time, while for the media it takes about 80 minutes, taking into consideration their travel time from hotels to the rail station," he said.

In addition, TV broadcasting signals and wireless Internet access would be available aboard the train.

"Journalists could finish their stories and watch live games on the train while traveling. It's convenient and time-efficient," Wang said.

As for expressed concerns over relatively little snowfall around Beijing, experts have shrugged off the criticism, citing the climate conditions in the proposed mountain venue areas of Yanqing and Chongli, where abundant snowfall can be expected.

"It doesn't snow quite as much in downtown Beijing, but Yanqing and Chongli have received consistent snowfall in recent years, since these two regions have high humidity and low temperatures," said Wang Ji, director of the Beijing Climate Center.

In addition, using artificial snow to create runs for skiing competitions is an international practice widely used by ski resorts around the world, said Mojca Ogris-Schimberg, deputy general manager of Demaclenko, a snow making and ski resort planning company.

(China Daily 07/29/2015 page3)