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Bid committee shrugs off IOC's concerns over snow

By Sun Xiaochen | China Daily | Updated: 2015-06-03 07:39

The Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics bid committee has shrugged off concerns by the International Olympic Committee over insufficient snowfall and potential ecological damage in the proposed skiing venue areas.

The apparent lack of abundant snowfall in Beijing and the surrounding areas, which was highlighted in the IOC evaluation report published on Monday, would not affect snow events in the proposed mountain areas should the capital win the bid, Beijing committee officials said on Tuesday.

"Local weather conditions in the mountain regions in Yanqing (northwest Beijing) and Chongli (Zhangjiakou, Hebei province) suggest that abundant snowfall could be expected to cover the venue areas," said Zhao Yinggang, vice-secretary general of the Beijing2022 bid committee, at a media briefing on Tuesday. "This would provide enough snow for skiing despite the fact that it doesn't snow much in Beijing and its outlying urban areas," Zhao said.

Under Beijing's bid, the alpine skiing, bobsled, luge and skeleton events will be held at newly built venues in Yanqing's Xiaohaituo mountain area, while the rest of the snow sports will be held at upgraded and refurbished venues in Chongli county, Zhangjiakou, about 200 km northwest of Beijing.

Snow fell in Zhangjiakou 26 times from November to April, and the latest Yanqing snowfall was in early May, the bid committee cited as proof of sufficient natural snow.

An advanced artificial-snow-making system coupled with water supply plans will ensure that snow events could be operated even under extreme dry climatic conditions, Zhao added.

"All the seven (Olympic winter sports) federations gave positive feedback on venue planning during their onsite inspection trips from July to November last year, which means we are OK to host all the sports," Zhao said.

Still, the assessment report released by the IOC's Evaluation Commission after visiting Beijing and the other bid city, Almaty in Kazakhstan, earlier this year, highlights the challenge of "substantial reliance on snow-making in all mountain venues".

It cites the environmental impact on local reservoirs, which might affect the ecological system.

Both representatives from the Zhangjiakou and Yanqing operation centers pledged that the protection of local ecosystems will be a top priority while constructing Olympic venues and developing skiing facilities in the proposed areas.

"Sustainability and ecological sensitivity will be at the top of the list when we draft plans to develop skiing facilities and related businesses," Wang Biao, director of the Beijing 2022 Zhangjiakou operation center, said at the briefing.

Zhang Suzhi, deputy county head of Yanqing, stressed that detailed plans have been drawn up to protect forest and water resources in the area of Songshan National Nature Reserve that would be used by the Games.

"Developing a skiing industry will help the traditional water-consuming economy of farming transform into a green business like tourism," Zhang said.

The concerns over Beijing's poor air quality will be addressed in time for the Games, said Fang Li, spokesman for the Beijing Environmental Protection Bureau.

This will be done by implementing tough measures to tackle pollution by relocating or shutting polluting industries, increasing clean energy use and reducing traffic emissions.

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