Beijing: The International Olympic Committee on Friday named Beijing as host of the 2022 Winter Olympics after the Chinese capital got more votes from IOC members than the only other candidate, Almaty in Kazakhstan.

The victory means Beijing will become the first city to stage both a summer and winter Olympics. It hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, often billed as a coming of age moment for China.

Beijing’s bid for the 2022 Olympics raised eyebrows as the city isn’t a traditional heartland for winter sports. But it was regarded as favorite ahead of Almaty after several European cities, including Oslo and Stockholm, dropped out of the race because of cost concerns.

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in three so-called clusters in and around Beijing. Venues from the 2008 Games such as the Bird’s Nest stadium and Water Cube will be used for events in Beijing, while the alpine competitions will be held in Zhangjiakou, which the Chinese bid committee says is “a mere” 180 kilometers away from Beijing, and Yanqing, which is 74 kilometers from the capital.

China plans to build a high-speed rail-link from Beijing to the mountain venues, cutting travel time to under an hour. Chinese authorities have also pledged to tackle Beijing’s notoriously bad air pollution and ensure there is enough snow for alpine events held in places that don’t get a great deal of snow. Organizers are likely to have to resort to artificial snow.

In the run-up to Friday’s vote, activists criticized the human-rights records of both China and Kazakhstan, which was bidding to host an Olympics for the first time. is the former capital of Kazakhstan and the biggest city in the Central Asian country of 17 million people.

Courtesy Wall Street Journal

Also Friday, the IOC named Lausanne in Switzerland as host of the 2020 Youth Olympic Winter Games.