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Zhangjiakou hopes for Winter Olympic bid with Beijing

2014-01-28 09:13 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

Zhangjiakou in North China's Hebei province will be the main venue in the 2022 Winter Olympic Games if it succeeds in jointly bidding for the games with its neighboring city Beijing, the Zhangjiakou government said at a conference on Sunday.

Despite infrastructure improvements, concerns over poor air quality in the region may derail a successful bid.

Currently, Zhangjiakou is working with Beijing on questionnaires which will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by March 14, 2014. The IOC will finalize the candidate list in July 2014 and select the host city in July 2015, Zhang Chunsheng, an official of the city's office in charge of bidding the games, said at the conference.

If the bid is successful, Zhangjiakou will primarily host the snow sports events. The area normally has a 150-day ski season.

Zhangjiakou has also built four ski resorts with 82 trails. The total length of the ski trails reached 69 kilometers.

The office also mentioned a 174-kilometer Zhangjiakou-Beijing high-speed railway, which will be completed in 2017, cutting the journey time to 40 minutes.

By 2020, Zhangjiakou is expected to have more than 20 star-rated hotels to accommodate more than 20,000 tourists a day, so the city will be well able to cope with visitor numbers during the Games.

The bid may be overshadowed by concerns over North China's pervasive smog. In December, six cities in Hebei saw some of the worst air pollution nationwide, according to the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP).

"Beijing and its neighboring cities are making efforts to improve air quality, and after eight years, the air quality in these areas will be greatly improved," said Dong Liming, a professor at the College of Urban and Environmental Sciences at Peking University.

Dong added that a successful bid could improve the reputation of Beijing and Zhangjiakou.

Despite the smoggy days in the capital of the country, Zhangjiakou won the honor of national garden city in 2012. According to an annual air quality report of 2013 released by the MEP, Zhangjiakou is a city with the best air quality in the northern areas of China.

The honor was challenged by a 2013 report by China Central Television. The report revealed that the city was polluted by nearby coal mines, quarries and steel mills and said that the Zhangjiakou government lacks proper regulation over pollution.

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