KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — The IOC has selected Beijing to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, were the only two candidates in the voting by the International Olympic Committee.
The vote had been delayed by technical problems involving the electronic voting system, so the members voted again by paper ballot.
Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, becomes the first city to host both a winter and summer games.
The voting followed final presentations by both bid cities.
The prime minister of Kazakhstan challenged the IOC to make a “historic decision” by awarding games to Almaty, painting the project as the one that offers real snow and mountain conditions.
Beijing countered that it offers experience, reliability and the prospect of bringing winter sports to a market of 300 million people in northern China.
As the underdog, Almaty had the most to gain and went all-out in trying to make its case and make digs at the Beijing bid’s weaknesses.
“Almaty had to change the paradigm, taking on one of the superpowers, and I thought they made their case,” Canadian IOC member Dick Pound told The Associated Press. “They were very effective. Whether it translates into votes — that remains to be seen.”
Beijing and Almaty were both considered longshots when the 2022 bid race opened two years ago. But they were the only two candidates left after four European cities — including Oslo and Stockholm — pulled out for political or financial reasons.
Almaty is bidding for a second time, but this is the first time it made it to the vote after being cut in the preliminary stage for the 2014 Games.
“Almaty is not a risky choice for 2022,” Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov told the IOC delegates. “In fact, we are quite the opposite. … We are a golden opportunity to prove that smaller, advancing nations can successfully host the Winter Games.”
Massimov directly addressed the idea that the IOC considers China a safer, more dependable choice.
“We’ve heard the sentiment that if you do not select Almaty, then you, the IOC, can ‘sleep well at night’ for the next seven years,” Massimov said. “I find that a curious statement.”
Beijing’s presentation played much less on emotion and sought mainly to reinforce the pitch that China — the world’s most populous nation, rising power and economic giant — can be counted on to deliver, as it did for the IOC in 2008.
“Hosting the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing will encourage 300 million Chinese, particularly the country’s young people, to participate in ice and snow sports,” Vice Premier Liu Yandong said.