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Volume 10 No. 25


Chinese state-run media said Tuesday that Beijing "will bid to hold the 2022 Winter Games," according to the AFP. China's Olympic Committee has "in the name of Beijing city, applied to the International Olympic Committee" to host the Games. The application says that "ice sports would be held in Beijing, while snow events would take place in the city of Zhangjiakou, in the neighbouring province of Hebei" (AFP, 11/5). REUTERS' Michael Martina wrote Zhangjiakou, in Hebei province about 200km northwest of Beijing, "has been proposed for snow sports while the capital would host ice events." Construction on a railway linking the two cities "will begin late this year" (REUTERS, 11/5). XINHUA's Ma Xiangfei wrote Beijing Sports Bureau Chief Li Yingchuan admitted that "Beijing has its only weak point, which is pollution." Li said, "But the government has already started to tackle the problem. I believe in 10 years the situation will be much better." Li said Beijing's chances "would be affected by the fact that PyeongChang of South Korea is to host the 2018 Winter Games." Li: "There is a rotation rule, though unwritten, in the bid. Since PyeongChang won the 2018 bid, Beijing as another Asian city will face a daunting task to beat the odds" (XINHUA, 11/5).

UKRAINE'S BID: REUTERS reported Lviv, Ukraine, on Tuesday "launched a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in the Carpathian mountains, seeking to become the first East European nation apart from Russia to stage the Games." Ukraine Deputy PM Oleksandr Vilkul said that "a successful bid would be a major boost for the country’s tourism and sports industry." The declaration was signed by Mayor Andriy Sadovyy and head of the national Olympic committee Sergey Bubka. Bubka, a former Olympic pole vault champion, said that "the decision to bid was proof of Ukraine’s sports revival." Bubka: "Ten years ago I could not imagine that I would witness a Ukrainian bid to host the (Olympics)" (REUTERS, 11/5).

Russia was due to unveil a new $309M power station Tuesday to "guarantee electricity supplies" for the 2014 Sochi Olympics just as athletes training for the event "complained of blackouts," according to RIA NOVOSTI. Int'l athletes currently participating in preliminary training sessions at the specially built Olympic sporting venues "have been complaining of rolling blackouts in the area around the ski resort of Rosa Khutor." Canadian luge athlete Arianne Jones wrote on Twitter, "Living by candlelight here in Russia! #comebackpower." The tweet "was accompanied by a picture of candles she was using instead of electricity." Sanki Olympic Sliding Center, the venue for bobsleigh and luge events in the mountains outside Sochi, "has been hit by power cuts that have reportedly disrupted training schedules and could damage conditions at the facility." Venues for skiing and biathlon events "are nearby" (RIA NOVOSTI, 11/5).

The Olympic torch has been to the North Pole and traveled thousands of kilometers "on the relay that will end at the Sochi Winter Games in Russia in February," according to Ian Bateson of REUTERS. The problem is "the flame keeps going out." The longest torch relay in Olympic history "has been interrupted repeatedly since Putin launched it by hoisting the torch high outside the Kremlin" on Oct. 6. Yulia Latynina, a journalist who has been following the planned 65,000km (40,000-mile) relay, said that the torch -- made at a Siberian factory that produces submarine-launched ballistic missiles -- "has already gone out at least 44 times on its way to Sochi on Russia's Black Sea coast." Latynina said, "A torch is a lot simpler than a missile -- it's a big gas lighter. Question: Do our missiles fly the way our torches burn?" Asked for comment, torch relay spokesperson Roman Osin said that "the number of times the torch had failed was within the normal range of error and that there had been similar incidents during the relays before the London and Beijing Olympics." The torches "were designed to withstand Russia's extreme weather conditions, including high winds and temperatures that can range from -40 C (-40 F) to 40 C (104 F)." It is no laughing matter for Putin, "who has staked a lot on a successful Games, but the torch has become the butt of jokes in Russia." On a roadside in Kolomna, a city outside Moscow, "residents greeted the torch by holding up lighters or striking matches" (REUTERS, 11/5).

Russian police detained, harassed, and "threatened to imprison" two journalists from a Norwegian TV station who were "on a reporting trip to Sochi." Over the course of three days, Oystein Bogen and Aage Aunes, reporter and cameraman, respectively, of Norway's TV2, "were stopped by police six times." They were "arrested on three occasions" (London GUARDIAN, 11/5). ... Russia's "embrace of the Sochi Paralympic Games and its increasing concern about the hardships of its disabled population could spark further improvement in the condition of the country's handicapped individuals." Denise Roza, director of Perspektiva, an NGO that strives to improve the well-being of disabled people in Russia, said, "There has been lots of change for people living with disabilities in the past 10 years, and even more in the last three. The Russian government has been much more serious about it, and I think the Sochi Paralympics will help raise public awareness and contribute to maintaining positive change" (MOSCOW TIMES, 11/4).