Harbin Preparing to Bid for Winter Olympics

Posted by Reading Time: 2 minutes


Feb. 4 – With the Chinese government officially declaring they would not be bidding to host the 2018 or 2022 World Cup soccer finals, attention has now focused on a possible bid for the Winter Olympics in either 2018 or 2022. Li Zhanshu, the provincial governor for Heilongjiang, has stated that this month’s Winter University Games in Harbin will be a catalyst for a bid to host the Winter Olympics if the University event proved successful.

Harbin increasingly has the infrastructure to support such an event. The city itself hosts the international ice festival each year, at which international teams compete to build the most impressive structures out of ice cut from the frozen Songhua River for serious cash prizes. The Festival itself attracts tourists from Japan, Russia, Korea and elsewhere in China, and the success of this has lead to an increasing improvement of the tourism facilities the city has to offer, including upgraded hotels and restaurants, a huge Lane Crawford store, and Warner Brothers multiplex. Meanwhile, luxury stores such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Cartier and Ferragamo compete for shoppers along the architecturally historic and increasingly glamorous Central Avenue.

Many of the Games themselves would most likely be held at Yabuli, a resort some three hours drive Northeast of Harbin, just 140 kilometers from the border with Russia at Mudanjiang. Yabuli has been undergoing extensive development over the past few years, and although the hospitality on offer in its resort hotels needs to improve, it is possible the Games could flourish there. Only one problem could surface to reduce the likelihood of a successful bid – the slopes at Yabuli are relatively low, lying at just under 1,000 feet, and do not compare with those available elsewhere in Asia, North America or Europe.

However, the area would receive a massive boost if a decision to bid – as seems increasingly likely – is made.

More on Harbin and Heilongjiang in our related articles here:
UN Initiative to Boost Northeast China
China Knocks Rust off Northeast
Chinese Rubles