Beijing to Host 2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing H 2015
AP Images/Invision

The Chinese capital will become the first city to have hosted both summer and winter games.

Bejiing has been named the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, beating the Kazakh city of Almaty in a two-horse race.

The decision was made by the International Olympic Committee in Kuala Lumpur, where both finalists made a last-ditched push to claim the prize. Beijing – which won by 44 votes to 40 – is now set to become the first city to have hosted both summer and winter games.

The event will be split between three sites: one in the Chinese capital itself, one in the city of Zhangjiakou  125 miles from Beijing  and one in the mountainous Yanqing county to the city's northwest. 

Prior to the decision, activists had urged the IOC to reject Beijing's bid. An open letter signed by many high-profile dissidents said that China was on the brink of a "human rights crisis with a scale of violations that is unprecedented since 2008," pointing to a crackdown on government opponents and claiming that the Olympic win would "endorse a government that blatantly violates human rights."

While there were no major protests at Friday's IOC vote, at a briefing last month pro-Tibet supporters broke into the hotel brandishing banners with slogans including "Free Tibet" and "No More Bloody Games."

Kazakhstan hadn't escaped criticism over its human rights record either, with Human Rights Watch saying that the authorities "heavily restrict" freedom of assembly, speech and religion, while "torture remains a serious problem."

Last year it was revealed that, were Beijing to win the bid, Zhang Yimou, the director of Hero, Raise the Red Lantern and the opening and closing ceremonies for the summer games in 2008, would be applying his magic to the 2022 Winter Olympics' ceremonies as well.

The bid came down to just two cities after Munich, Oslo, Stockholm, Lviv, Krakow and Graubunden all withdrew from the race.

The next Winter Olympics in 2018 will be held in PyeongChang in South Korea.