Excitement surrounding a surprise announcement last week from Chinese city Chengdu that sport officials were about to launch a 2032 Olympic bid jointly with neighboring Chongqing has quickly fizzled out.
Wei Jizhong, the former secretary general of the Chinese Olympic Committee (COC), downplayed the emerging proposal explaining that the event would be poorly timed and the named locations were too far apart.
He told South China Morning Post “even though it’s only 300 kilometers apart, it is still too far away from each other for them to be joint hosts.”
And with Beijing set to host the 2022 Winter Olympics positioning the capital to be the only city to host both seasonal editions of the Games, Wei said it was too soon for the event to return to China.
He explained “for me, we have to give a chance to other cities around the world.”
“We already have the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing and according to IOC [International Olympic Committee] policy, they want to reduce costs. This allows other cities around the world to make realistic bids.”
The whirlwind of speculation began after an economic development report published on Chengdu’s official website stated “as part of a national strategy to develop the Chengdu-Chongqing economic circle, the two cities will bid for the Olympics together to try to host a Games with strong urban and cultural characteristics of the two cities, and to enhance the international influence of the two cities.”
This proclamation caught Chongqing officials off-guard with sport authority employee’s reportedly unaware of such a bid. Sichuan Province capital Chengdu has been a regional rival to mega-city Chongqing after the latter broke off from the province in 1997 to create its own provincial-level authority. Residents of both cities quickly took to social media to argue the prospect of a joint bid.
Wei, who is an honorary life president of the Olympic Council of Asia, said that the proposal has evolved without necessary consultation with the COC.
“It’s just an idea in someone’s head,” Wei told South China Morning Post.
“Anyone can say anything but it’s only an idea. The Chinese Olympic Committee has not said anything and I’m not taking it seriously for now.”
Officials in Shanghai had floated the idea of an Olympic bid from the Chinese city in 2018, but a project has yet to materialize.
The race to host the 2032 Games has been on hold since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic and the delay of the Tokyo 2020 Games, and this has allowed more time for interested regions to jostle for position in the running. Those already in the fray, including the perceived early frontrunner Brisbane in Australia, might be relieved that China’s bid has been cooled.
Also in the growing field are bids from Jakarta in Indonesia, Doha in Qatar, a regional project in Germany, a joint Unified Korea bid from Seoul and Pyongyang, and Mumbai in India.
Istanbul in Turkey has also expressed interest.
The IOC had been fast-tracking bids and it looked likely that a host city for 2032 could be elected in 2021. But due to COVID-19 all bids, and the IOC process, have stalled and years could be added to the race that has traditionally ended seven years ahead of the Games themselves – in this case, 2025.