|Beijing celebrates a happy, proud day
Lion dancers swayed and confetti canons erupted as news came that Beijing would become the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics.
Local residents praised their city's winning bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, although celebrations were far more muted than 14 years ago when Beijing exploded in glee after getting the 2008 Summer Games.
Much of the celebration centered on the Bird's Nest stadium at an event attended by about 500 pre-selected participants. Liu Yunshan, a top Communist Party leader, thanked the crowd and pledged the central government's support for the effort.
“My life is complete,'' said Yang Linping, chairman of the National Indoor Stadium Co., who participated in organizing the 2008 Olympics and was looking forward to handling a winter event as well. “This is the result I was expecting, and I am especially happy.''
On the street, city residents and tourists expressed happiness reflecting support level percentages that both the IOC and Chinese organizers have put in the high 90s. Many Beijingers looked forward to improvements in city's notorious pollution and heavy traffic, both of which were alleviated during the 2008 Games through strict restrictions on factories and private drivers.
“I feel happy and proud,'' 24-year-old office administrator Li Yi said in downtown Beijing. “And I hope to see a big boost for air quality and traffic conditions _ anything relating to the quality of life in this city.''
The 2022 Games will raise Beijing's “international profile even higher,'' college student Jenny Xiang said near the Bird's Nest. “We saw what happened after 2008 and I'm sure it will be just as good this time.''
Yet the mood was considerably more sedate than in 2001, when Beijing succeeded in its long-yearned-for dream of hosting the Olympics for the first time. That year, crowds poured into Tiananmen Square in the heart of the city, staying up all night waving flags, chanting slogans and exuding a vibe of freedom and genuine joy so rarely felt in the often dour capital of the authoritarian communist state.
Six of the nine venues intended for the games are already in place, including the Bird's Nest and adjacent Water Cube arena. –AP