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2ND LEAD Beijing named 2022 Winter Olympics host in close contest By John Grafilo, dpa

Germany
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Kuala Lumpur (dpa) - Beijing has beaten Kazakhstan‘s Almaty to be named host of the 2022 Winter Olympics, with only four votes separating the two bidders, the International Olympic Committee announced Friday.

The Chinese capital was supposedly a heavy favourite going into the ballot, mainly because many of the 85 voting members of the IOC have experience working with China during the 2008 Summer Games in Beijing, but the results did not bear this out.

The IOC said Beijing received 44 votes against 40 for Almaty, with one abstention.

The win makes Beijing the first city in the world to host both Summer and Winter Olympic Games.

Chinese basketball star Yao Ming, who was among the Chinese athletes campaigning for Beijing‘s bid, said a lot of hard work still awaits them as they prepare for the 2022 Winter Games.

"We will have a long journey to go," he told reporters outside the hall at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, where the announcement was made.

The IOC chose Beijing despite the fact that the skiing events, to be held 200 kilometres from the city, would rely heavily on artificial snow.

Chinese officials said they have abundant water supplies and more than enough snow-making equipment to provide the best conditions for the Winter Games.

In her final pitch before the vote, Liu Yandong - vice premier of China - emphasized Beijing‘s experience in hosting large scale competitions as well as China‘s political and economic stability as the best reasons why they would be a good host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

Pundits said human rights concerns in Kazakhstan would affect Almaty‘s chances but that a strong winter sports tradition would help the city win votes.

Voting was held up because electronic tablets did not work and delegates had to use pen and paper.

Only two bidders made it to the ballot after several cities, including Munich and Oslo, pulled out in recent years because of a lack of public support and cost worries.

In the contest for the hosting of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics, Lausanne edged out the Romanian city of Brasov. The Swiss city, the home of the IOC, picked up 71 votes with Brasov gaining 10.

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