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China's Xi pledges clean, green Winter Games in 2022

Reuters

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will hold a clean and green Winter Olympics when it hosts the games in 2022, an event that will also help regional peace and stability, President Xi Jinping told the head of the International Olympic Committee.

Beijing and the nearby city of Zhangjiakou won the right to host the Games in 2015. The only other city bidding was Almaty in Kazakhstan, after other competitors dropped out, citing costs and other worries.

While Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games to wide acclaim, its bid for the Winter Games was dogged by concern over numerous issues, such as corruption, the city's notorious smog, a lack of snow and China's poor human rights record.

Last month, a Chinese court jailed for bribery a former deputy sports minister who had been a member of the country's Olympics committee for 10-1/2 years. [nL4N1EL228]

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Meeting IOC President Thomas Bach in the Swiss city of Lausanne, Xi said the 2022 Winter Olympic Games would be a "remarkable, extraordinary and excellent event", state news agency Xinhua said late on Wednesday.

"The preparations for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be a major task for China in the years to come. China will prepare and host the 2022 Games in a green, sharing, open and clean-fingered manner," it paraphrased Xi as saying.

"Hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics will also boost the economic growth of China and other countries along the Belt and Road routes, and enhance regional peace and stability," Xi added, referring to China's new Silk Road trade scheme.

The report made no direct mention of a possible lack of snow or Beijing's terrible smog problem. Large parts of northern China have been swathed in noxious fumes this winter.

There have also been concerns about Internet restrictions, though the IOC said in October it was confident China would guarantee uncensored Internet when it hosts the Games.[nL4N1CI325]

Xinhua made no mention of Internet access in its report.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

 
 
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