x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

China mulling bid for 2018 Winter Games

Four months after successfully holding the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China is considering a bid to host the 2018 Winter Games in the northern city of Harbin.

BEIJING // Four months after successfully holding the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China is considering a bid to host the 2018 Winter Games in the northern city of Harbin, state media said. Harbin, capital of the northeastern Heilongjiang province, has spent 3 billion yuan (Dh1.6bn) on venues and facilities to host 4,000 athletes for the World University Winter Games in February, and would use the event as a dry run, the province's governor Li Zhanshu told the China Daily.

"If the hosting of the 2009 Winter Universiade can win applause from all the guests, it will enhance our confidence to bid for the Winter Olympic Games," Li said. Harbin, a one-time enclave for White Russian émigrés after their defeat in the Russian Civil War (1917-21) but more famous for its annual ice sculpture festival, previously failed to be shortlisted for the 2010 Games awarded to Vancouver.

"If we fail again for the 2018 Games, we are determined to win the 2022 Winter Games. It's our dream to host China's first Winter Olympics," Li said, adding that final sign-off for the bid would come from China's sport ministry. The bustling city of some five million people would face competition from Munich, which declared itself a candidate last December, and from France, where three towns ? Annecy, Nice and Grenoble ? have flagged interest.

August's Beijing Games were largely hailed as a spectacular success for China, despite myriad concerns, ranging from air pollution to human rights abuses, dogging organisers in the lead-up. China is also to host the 2010 Asian Games in the southern city of Guangzhou. *Reuters