Beijing names head of 2022 Winter Games organizing committee

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BEIJING (AP) — Beijing's Communist Party chief has been appointed head of the organizing committee for the 2022 Winter Games.

Guo Jinlong said his first task would be to review Beijing's host city contract and the IOC's "Olympic Agenda 2020" program before coming up with a detailed agenda, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

The "Agenda 2020" program seeks to make the Olympics more affordable and sustainable. Beijing won its bid partly on the back of its commitment to keeps costs down.

Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Olympics, defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, in the IOC vote on July 31, becoming the first city in Olympic history to be awarded both the winter and summer games.

Guo's appointment was announced in a ceremony Tuesday at the Great Hall of the People in the heart of Beijing attended by top national leaders including Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

"To host a successful Winter Games is China's solemn commitment to the Olympic Family," Zhang was quoted as saying by Xinhua.

Air pollution and a lack of natural snow remain concerns. Because there are no tall mountains in the Beijing area, the skiing and other outdoor events are being held far from the city center.

Beijing says hosting the games will hasten efforts to clean up the air and help promote winter sports among tens of millions of young Chinese. Organizers also say have the water supplies and technology to produce sufficient man-made snow for the events.

The International Olympic Committee said the establishment of the organizing committee marks a "major step" in Beijing's preparations for the games.

"Beijing is making history as the first city in the world to host both the Olympic Summer Games and the Olympic Winter Games," IOC President Thomas Bach said in a letter to the organizing group. "The formation of the organizing committee represents the start of an exciting journey for the entire Olympic family."

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