A WINTER OLYMPICS WITHOUT SNOW?
(P1) Beijing’s successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics means it will become the first city ever to host a summer and winter Games.
(P2) The Chinese capital beat Kazakhstan’s city of Almaty.
(P3) But the lack of snow in Beijing is a major concern.
(P4) So what tipped the vote in Beijing’s favour? And can they host a successful Winter Olympic Games?
(P5) At the start of the bidding process, Beijing was seen as an OUTSIDER, due to its not exactly ALPINE climate and the fact that the 2018 Winter Olympics are also due to be held in Asia, in Pyeongchang in South Korea.
(P6) But a number of European cities, including Krakow, Oslo, and Stockholm, WITHDREW from the race, citing low public support and concerns about the enormous costs of hosting the Games.
(P7) That left just two CONTENDERS: Beijing and Almaty.
(P8) Almaty had many positives: the Kazakh city offers snowy winters and plenty of money from the country’s vast oil reserves.
(P9) But while Kazakhstan has never before hosted a major global sporting event, Beijing was seen as a safe choice, having hosted the 2008 Olympics.
(P10) That was enough to see the Chinese capital win, by a close vote of 44 to 40.
(P11) Beijing is not a mountainous city, so the skiing, snowboarding, and sliding events will be held in Yanqing, 55 miles away from the capital, and Zhangjiakou.
(P12) But even these VENUES have little snowfall. Zhangjiakou averages eight inches of snow per year, while Yanqing gets two inches.
(P13) So, unlike wintry Almaty – whose SLOGAN was ‘Keeping It Real’ – Beijing will be making tons of artificial snow.
(P14) There is a PRECEDENT for this: the organisers of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – one of Russia’s warmest regions – created enough snow to cover 1,000 football fields.
(P15) But there are concerns over the environmental impact of the snow-making process.
(P16) Many international observers were not enthusiastic about the choice of Beijing.
(P17) The New York Times said “serious problems” were posed by the selection of Beijing, adding: “It’s a sad day when the International Olympic Committee cannot even clear one of the LOWEST BARS for choosing the host city for the Winter Games: snow.
(P18) “While the Almaty bid’s slogan was ‘Keeping It Real’, Beijing’s could have been, ‘Keeping It IMPRACTICAL‘. The IOC obviously isn’t AIMING for AUTHENTICITY.”
(P20) The Economist pointed out China’s lack of tradition in skiing, the Winter Games’ BLUE RIBBON event, saying: “The sport is still very much in its INFANCY in China.”
(P21) British SKELETON gold medallist Lizzy Yarnold said, “Beijing is a relatively warm place, and artificial snow does make a huge difference.”
(P22) Meanwhile, the Kazakhstan bidders accepted the decision GRACIOUSLY. “China has played a significant role in the development of sport in Asia,” said bid vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov. “We know that they will deliver a great Games.”
(P23) Others will need to be CONVINCED that is true.
If you found the passage difficult to read or had problems understanding specific words or idiomatic expressions, please discuss them with your tutor. The following discussion questions should be answered in your own words and with your own arguments.
- Briefly summarize the content of the article in your own words.
- Is the choice of Olympic host cities mainly about sports, or mainly about money and international politics?
- Why have so many world cities been withdrawing from the competition to be Olympic host cities? Why are the citizens of those cities not supporting the idea of hosting the Olympics?
- China has more experience with international sports events; Kazakhstan has more snow. Which city would you have chosen, Almaty or Beijing?
- Do you prefer to watch the Summer Olympics or Winter Olympics?
EXPRESSIONS TO PRACTICE:
What do the following expressions mean? Practice using each expression in a sentence; extra points if you can use it in conversation.
- Low bar
- Blue ribbon