Sports / China

Olympic bid outlook remains bright despite pollution

By SUN XIAOCHEN (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-30 07:41

Olympic bid outlook remains bright despite pollution

Alexander Zhukov (center left), chairman of the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission, and Guo Jinlong, Party chief of Beijing, greet a primary school student after a wrap-up news conference for the commission's inspection visit to Beijing on Saturday. FENG YONGBIN/CHINA DAILY

The International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission remains positive that Beijing is capable of hosting a successful Winter Olympics in 2022 despite concerns about serious air pollution.

The evaluation commission concluded its five-day inspection visit to Beijing on Saturday with high marks for the city's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

"I can say that the Olympic spirit that Beijing and China showed the world in 2008 is alive and as strong as ever. Our visit has confirmed that Beijing is capable of hosting successful Olympic Winter Games in 2022," said Alexander Zhukov, Russian IOC member and chairman of the evaluation commission, at the wrap-up news conference on Saturday.

During the evaluation trip, the commission raised approximately 150 questions for the Beijing bid committee on 15 themes, including bidding concept, athlete experience and public support. It also inspected all of the proposed venues in downtown Beijing, Yanqing county and Zhangjiakou in Hebei province, accompanied by bid officials and athlete representatives.

Among all the concerns, how to tackle the notorious smog in Beijing and surrounding areas has been a pressing issue.

Wang Anshun, president of the Beijing 2022 bid committee and mayor of Beijing, promised that if the bid succeeds, a series of tough measures taken previously by environmental authorities would bring "Olympic blue" in time for the Games.

"We will continue implementing strict measures and tough penalties with great determination to improve the air quality, not only for the bid but also for residents' livelihood," Wang said.

"Olympic blue", derived from the phrase "APEC blue", which was coined during November's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings in Beijing, refers to the fresh air and clear days that would be the goal during hosting of the Olympics.

During the APEC meetings, Beijing imposed strict pollution controls that led to a big decrease in airborne pollutants.

Zhukov said the IOC commission has faith in the Chinese government's efforts to reduce air pollution for the sake of the athletes, officials and international spectators, should Beijing win the bid.

"I don't think there is any doubt that the 2008 Games increased the environmental awareness in China and helped energize the government measures to tackle the pollution," he said.

Beijing's rich legacy from the 2008 Summer Olympics of existing venues and expertise of event operation has provided a significant edge over its only bid rival, Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan.

"I think Beijing has maximized the use of existing world-class sports venues and infrastructure. It's 100 percent consistent with the Olympic Agenda 2020 (reform recommendations that promote sustainability in future Olympics)," said Zhukov.

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