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Beijing 2022, the Surprisingly Green Olympics

Beijing 2022 the Surprisingly Green Olympics Bloomberg View


After years of running bloated Olympic Games criticized for their environmental records, the International Olympic Committee decided to make sustainability a goal, using sport as a way to promote better development. Under IOC President Thomas Bach in 2014, it inaugurated Olympic Agenda 2020, a set of 40 reform principles designed to make the Olympics a "plug-and-play" event: Host cities would be chosen in part because the games already fit into their environments and would do minimal damage.

At first glance, Beijing -- a city perhaps best known for its smog, not for its snow -- is an unlikely showcase for this approach and for the 2022 Winter Olympics, which it was awarded Friday. In 2008, the Beijing Summer Games were a major construction project that permanently transformed the landscape. But it's precisely that history that allows the IOC to further its green goals.

Agenda 2020's influence on the bids considered this week at the IOC's meetings in Kuala Lumpur was unmistakable. Both Beijing and its competitor, Almaty, Kazakhstan, emphasized the minimal amount of construction they'd undertake. Beijing promised to reuse 11 of 12 venues built for 2008, including the iconic Bird's Nest stadium and the Water Cube swimming center, which will be used for curling. Unlike Almaty, which already had the ski slopes, Beijing will need to build them on land just outside a national park. But that's nothing compared with the 2014 Sochi Games' massive construction program and $51 billion budget. In contrast, Beijing 2022's $3.1 billion budget is shockingly modest.

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So... Beijing won the 2022 bid because it can re-use many of the structures built for 2008, which fulfills the definition of green?

Fascinating development given that the city is known for smog, as the article points out. 

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