In a victory over Almaty, Kazakhstan, Beijing will be the first city in the world to host a Summer and Winter Olympics. The good news is that the Chinese capital has the infrastructure in place to welcome guests around the world in 2022. The bad news is that the visitors shouldn’t expect to breathe fresh air or see blue sky.
As I tell people, Beijing will try your patience. It can be a wonderful, mind-blowing experience with the Forbidden City, Tiananmen Square, world-class art museums, the maze-like hutongs and more progressive food, shopping and culture than you think. With the lack of internet access, confusing street signs, crazy traffic and population congestion and the ever-present smog, you will find yourself holding back your angry and frustration while taking your second bath of the day to get the smog smell out of you.
That smog will be the key factory for the comfort of the athletes. Even the mayor of Beijing said in January that the city is “unlivable,” and as a result, tourism has declined by 10% over the past two years. “To establish a first-tier, international, liveable and harmonious city, it is very important to establish a system of standards, and Beijing is currently doing this. At the present time, however, Beijing is not a liveable city.” Good to know.
The smog is a result of the surge of factories in and around the city, plus the population’s new-found wealth leading to more automobiles on the streets. While the city is still a bike friendly city with the extensive bike lanes, you’re best to be paying attention at all times because the drivers won’t treat you kindly.
This photo below I took of a beautiful lake in a park. It wasn’t an overcast, rainy or cloudy day, that’s smog. I never saw sunlight the whole week I was there.
I have no doubt that the city will be well prepared for the new indoor facilities. Taking a tour of the Olympic Park is a must if you visit, especially at night. It’s breathtaking to see the architecture of the Bird’s Nest and light structures. You might even get roped into some impromptu street karaoke while on the grounds.
As for the lack of snow, it didn’t hurt Sochi, Russia last year. Skiers will be traveling to 55 miles north to Yanqing, on the edge of the Gobi Desert. China will be making their own snow for the events. Of course they are!