Beijing will be the first city to stage both the summer and winter editions of the Olympic and Paralympic Games after being chosen on Friday as the host of the 2022 Winter Games by the International Olympic Committee.
The IOC voted 44-40 to choose Beijing, site of the 2008 Games, over Almaty, the largest city of the former Soviet republic Kazakhstan in Central Asia, at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The vote culminated a nearly three-year process that initially included bids from four northern European countries, including a former Winter Games host.
However, after submitting formal applications by the Nov. 14, 2013, deadline, Krakow, Poland; Lviv, Ukraine; 1952 Olympic Winter Games host Oslo; and Stockholm all withdrew for political or economic reasons, leaving the two Asian hopefuls.
Here are five things to know about Beijing:
1. Beijing is known as the cultural center of China. The city has been China’s capital for most of the past eight centuries and features iconic Chinese landmarks such as the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square and the Temple of Heaven.
2. With a population of 1.35 billion, China is the world’s most populous country. Beijing, with a population of 20.7 million, has more people than the entire state of Florida.
3. Although winter temperatures in Beijing range from zero Fahrenheit to about 40, the Chinese capital averages only about five inches of snow. The city plans to use artificial snow for many events, while also holding sliding and alpine skiing events 45 minutes northwest in Yanqing and snow events (skiing, ski jumping, snowboarding, biathlon) 110 miles northwest in Zhangjiakou.
4. Yanqing is known for the Badaling section of the Great Wall of China, where U.S. President Richard Nixon visited on his historic trip in 1972.
5. The 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing were noteworthy for several great performances, including U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps winning a record eight gold medals and Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt winning three gold medals with three world records.
Brian Trusdell has covered four FIFA World Cups and six Olympic Games during his more than 30 years as a sportswriter, mostly with the Associated Press and Bloomberg News. He is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.