One would think the winter Olympics would be held in a place where there is snow, but in 2022, that was not the case when the games were held in Beijing.
I live in Kansas City. It gets cold here, and we get a little bit of snow each year, averaging maybe a foot or two each winter. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, we can build a pretty good snowman once in a while. We can occasionally sled, and we even have a glorified hill we call a ski area.
While we have some winter fun, it would be unfathomable to think the winter Olympics would ever be held here because it would be silly to do so. The heart of America may be known for it’s famous barbecue and beautiful fountains, but it’s simply not a winter sports destination.
Beijing is a sprawling urban mega city in China with a climate similar to Kansas City. The city does experience cold weather in the winter months, but it receives an annual snowfall often measured only in centimeters. For the Americans not good at the metric system, we’re talking less than a couple of inches each winter.
Like Kansas City, Beijing is also most definitely not know as a winter sports destination. In fact, the nearest mountain where some ski events were held is over 50 miles away from the city. While you would think the outlying mountains might provide quality snow for skiing, they don’t. They were actually barren and brown.
If there is no snow, how do you host the winter Olympics?
ALL of the snow for the 2022 games was fake. 300 snow cannons used more than 49 million gallons of water to create the snow needed for the events. As if that’s not odd enough, some of the events you’d expect to find on a mountainside were held in the city center. To top it off, many of the indoor facilities used for the 2022 winter activities were the same facilities used for the 2008 summer Olympics.
The fact Beijing was the host location for the 2008 summer games should have been something the Olympic committee would have considered as null and void when looking for a winter sports location, but the city was determined, beating out multiple other real snow filled cities to win the hosting bid. Billions of dollars were subsequently spent to prepare the city for the 2022 winter Olympics.
Why did Beijing want to host the winter Olympics?
The answer is simple. It’s about image.
They did it because they can.
You have to admit, it is quite impressive how a city with no snow could be transformed into an effective winter sports venue capable of hosting the world’s best athletes in their chosen sports. Many of the events appeared very awkward and out of place with the lack of real snow, but the artificial precipitation seems to have worked just fine because they actually pulled it off.
Although this concept may seem silly, it’s not unheard of. In 2014, the winter Olympics held in Sochi, Russia, used about 80% fake snow. The 2018 winter games in Pyeongchang, South Korea used around 98% fake snow.
I personally find it strange a city with zero snow would be bold enough to take on this enormous task, but I guess it’s no more crazy than seeing how many snow free nations participated in the 2022 winter games. Locations where it rarely, if ever, snows in the South Pacific, Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East all sent a delegation of athletes. It was reminiscent of the 1993 movie, Cool Runnings, which featured the Jamaican bobsled team’s oddly placed participation in the 1988 winter Olympics.
What started as a comical whim has turned into something no one could have ever imagined.
Maybe it’s climate change that is forcing us to get creative with our environment, or maybe Mother Nature just needs a helping hand sometimes. Whatever the reason, the magic of modern technology has progressed enough that we don’t care where we host events because humanity can manipulate it’s surroundings to what we want. Whatever it is, it’s just plain weird, but it’s pretty cool too.
On the flip side, if we can make our environment do what we want in this way, maybe we could do something to reduce the damage humanity has done to the planet… Just a thought.
In the meantime, maybe we’ll see the summer games held in Iceland sometime soon, or perhaps Kansas City will one day host the winter games.
You never know what to expect anymore.
~ Marty ~