Beijing has been voted host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, 14 years after entertaining guests for the Summer Games.
The Chinese capital defeated the only other candidate Kazakh’s largest city of Almaty 44-40 in a closely contested poll marred by technical problems.
Beijing, which also hosted the 2008 summer model, becomes the first city to host both the Winter and Summer Games in the 120 years of the Olympic movement.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) sees Beijing as a “safe choice”, trusting on the vast commercial opportunities in a new winter sports market of more than 300 million people in northern China.
“We know China will deliver on its promises,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.
Friday’s result also implies that the east Asia will serve as venue for three successive Olympics: the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, and 2022 in Beijing.
“With the real globalization of the world, the growing importance of Asia, not only in sports but also in all areas of life, I think it is more or less normal that we have more Olympic Games taking place in Asia,” Bach said.
Beijing 2022 was, instead of the IOC’s secret voting system, confirmed by a paper ballot after the first electronic vote experienced technical hitches with the voting tablet devices and was voided.
The outcome of the tablet votes were not revealed and there was one abstention in the paper ballot.
Almaty had hoped to bring the games to Central Asia but were considered a riskier choice by the IOC.
Beijing and Almaty were the last two candidates standing after four European cities- including Oslo and Stockholm- pulled out for political/financial reasons.
Human rights groups, who believe the situation in China has not improved since the 2008 Games, have not shy away from criticising the IOC’s decision.
“Over the next seven years, the IOC has enormous work to do in China to win the credibility on human rights that will ensure a successful Olympics,” Sophie Richardson, China director at Human Rights Watch, said.