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Volume 10 No. 23


Beijing promised a "frugal" Winter Olympics and to "harness the event to clean up the capital's notorious air pollution" if selected as host of the 2022 Games, but the pledges were "greeted with skepticism on Chinese social media," according to Ian Ransom of REUTERS. Beijing Vice Mayor Yang Xiaochao said, "If the Winter Games can be held in Beijing, the philosophy of holding a frugal Games will be put into the work from start to finish. We'll only build or renovate a small number of venues and ... and do the utmost to consider their post-Games use and the use of private funds in their construction." Though Beijing boasts a number of "large indoor venues that can readily host events such as skating and ice hockey," co-host Zhangjiakou, a "little-known city" some 200 kilometres northwest of the capital, will require "substantial infrastructure." Currently a "three-hour drive apart, officials have slated building a multi-billion yuan high-speed rail-link to cut traveling time between the host cities to less than an hour." A successful bid would also mean "lavish expenditure on the skiing venues in the mountains near Zhangjiakou and Beijing." Though the IOC "commended Beijing's government and public support for the Games, the bid scored weakest among the three candidate cities on environmental impact" (REUTERS, 7/8). In London, Roger Blitz reported the three remaining cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Olympics have "again exposed dwindling appetite for bearing the costs of such mega-sporting events." Public opinion, particularly in Europe, has "shifted noticeably against becoming a host," fuelled by the $50B cost of hosting this year's Winter Olympics in Sochi -- four times the original budget -- and "protests in Brazil over the past 12 months over spending" on the World Cup. The 2022 race has "suffered a series of withdrawals from European cities." Even among the shortlisted cities, there "are question marks over whether Oslo will stay in the race because of lukewarm support from the Norwegian government and public scepticism." Growing European "indifference towards hosting the Olympics is reducing the IOC's options and leaving it less able to rotate host cities between different regions." Asia, by contrast, "still has an appetite." If Beijing wins, it would be the "third consecutive Olympics to be hosted in Asia." Pyeongchang in South Korea is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics and Tokyo will stage the 2020 Summer Olympics (FINANCIAL TIMES, 7/8).

IOC Exec Dir Gilbert Felli said that the smooth running of the World Cup "has lifted the mood of Brazilians and given them the confidence to overcome delays and deliver the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro on time," according to the AP. Felli said that the situation "has improved since he was dispatched" for Rio two months ago. He said that there is "no reason to panic and that Brazilian organizers will complete the mountain of work still needed over the next two years -- with constant monitoring." Felli said that there are "no plans to move any venues as some sports federations had feared, and he predicted that most construction projects will be back on schedule by the end of September." Felli: "Of course it remains tense, very tense, but we should look with more optimism." While "serious concerns" remain, Felli said that the World Cup "has instilled a new sense of optimism in Brazil." He said, "The perception of the World Cup is that it's positive. We can see the reverse of the mood of the Brazilians about the World Cup. ... The perception of the Brazilians is much more positive. It's good for the games" (AP, 7/8).

The Indian Olympic Association has "called off its pursuit to bid for the 2019 Asian Games." The IOA officials were "waiting for an appointment with PM Narendra Modi in a last-ditch attempt to get the government's nod to place a serious bid." However, the association "failed to get an audience with the PM." IOA Secretary General Rajeev Mehta said, "It is all over as far as the bid for the 2019 Asian Games is concerned" (INDIAN EXPRESS, 7/7). ... The World Baseball Softball Confederation was "issued a warning Tuesday" by the IOC after an investigation into a May incident "in Tunisia involving Peter Kurz, the head of the Israeli Baseball Association." Kurz was requested "not to display the Israeli flag or name plate" at the WBSC congress (SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, 7/8).