Next stop Beijing 2022: the first city to host Summer and Winter Olympic Games

Four years left to make it snow for a historic winter games

In a remarkable turn of events for a city that averages just seven days and 11mm of precipitation in winter, Beijing was awarded the 2022 Winter Olympic Games back in 2015, setting it up to became the first city to ever host both the Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

The conversation in the years since has been dominated by the rather obvious question of 'where the hell is the snow going to come from?' (answer: snow cannons), and the subsequent environmental impacts of repurposing huge amounts of water to swathe mountain ranges in artificial powder.

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Beijing has long coated its mountains in fake snow to create ski villages such as Nanshan (above), but the awarding of the 2022 games to a city with little natural snow has raised eyebrows. Image: Nanshan Ski Village

Naturally, questions of budget have also arisen. Following Sochi 2014's unprecedented 51 billion USD splurge, the bids for 2022 and their potential impacts on candidate cities were under heavier scrutiny than ever before; Oslo pulled out after losing the support of the Norwegian government, leaving a two-horse race between Kazakhstan's Almaty, a climatically more suitable destination with a better-established culture of winter sports, and Beijing.

The Chinese capital won by a mere four votes, and so set off on the path to preparing for another games. In some ways, the city's hosting experience put it in a good position, and organisers were quick to try to allay concerns by announcing a budget a tenth size of Beijing 2008's, at 3.9 billion USD.

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China have won just 62 medals at 11 Winter Olympic outings, with 33 coming in short-track speed skating events. They'll be hoping for better at 2022. Image: Pawel Maryanov via Wikimedia Commons

How much snow can 4 billion bucks buy? Only time will tell if costs will stay within that limit, but in some areas, Beijing is already ready: away from the slopes out in distant Zhangjiakou, Chongli and Yanqing, at least six of the venues for 2022 will be legacy venues from 2008, including the Water Cube, set to be the stage for curling, and the Bird's Nest, which will host the opening and closing ceremonies.

Time for us all to sit tight, wrap up, try to get excited and, erm, learn to love winter sports – the government aims to get 300 million people into snowier and icier pursuits ahead of the games. See you on the slopes, then, and in the meantime, check our guide to everything you need to know about Beijing 2022.

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