What the snow-less mountain that will host the 2022 Beijing Olympics looks like in the middle of winter

Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics after beating out Almaty, Kazakhstan, the only other country to bid, in a tight vote.

The bidding for the 2022 games was a profound disappointment for the IOC. Every potential host city with a democratically elected government dropped out nearly a year before the final vote, mostly over economic concerns and lack of public support. When Oslo — which graded far higher than Beijing and Almaty in the IOC’s preliminary bid assessment — dropped out last October, it left the IOC with two less-than-ideal options.

In a 137-page evaluation of the two bids, the IOC outlined several problems with a Beijing Winter Olympics. The most obvious: there’s no snow.

Mountain events will be split between two different clusters. Alpine skiing and sliding will take play in Yanqing, about 55 miles from Beijing. Freestyle skiing, snowboarding, and the Nordic disciplines will take place in Zhangjiakou, which is about 100 miles away.

The average snow depth in Yanqing is 5 centimeters, with a minimum depth of 1 centimeter. The IOC included two photso of what the Yanqing mountain looks like for its bid evalution. These photos were taken between January 20-23, which is two weeks before the period during which the Beijing Olympics will take place in 2022.

There’s no snow:

Beijing 2022 olympics mountain snow

Here’s the planned ski route:

Beijing 2022 olympics mountain snow

The IOC sees this is a problem.

“The Zhangjiakou and Yanqing Zones have minimal annual snowfall and for the Games would rely completely on artificial snow,” concluded the bid evalution. “There would be no opportunity to haul snow from higher elevations for contingency maintenance to the racecourses so a contingency plan would rely on stockpiled man-made snow.”

While using artificial snow shouldn’t affect the competition (or, maybe it will), it’s going to make for an odd viewing experience.

“Due to the lack of natural snow the ‘look’ of the venue may not be aesthetically pleasing either side of the ski run,” the IOC admitted.

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