China orders 'ostentation' to be banished from Winter Games

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 23, 2016 7:59 AM

BEIJING (Reuters) - Organizers of the 2022 Winter Olympics must ensure the event is not tainted by "ostentation, waste or luxury", Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli said on Wednesday, according to state television.

Beijing, along with the nearby city of Zhangjiakou, won the right to host the Games last year. The only other city bidding to stage the event was Kazakhstan's Almaty after other candidates dropped out citing costs and other concerns.

The run-up to China's bid last year was overshadowed by corruption investigations into a deputy sports minister who had sat on China's Olympics committee and the Communist Party boss of Hebei province, where Zhangjiakou is located, who had attended meetings of the bid committee.

Speaking after President Xi Jinping last week ordered strict budget management to ensure the Games are "clean as the snow", Zhang said it was vital money for the event was used "properly" and sparingly.

"Most certainly do not engage in ostentation, waste or luxury," Zhang told senior Chinese officials involved in planning for the Games. He did not elaborate.

Xi, who doubles as party and military chief, has pursued a relentless campaign against deep-rooted corruption since assuming power three years ago.

That has included a push to banish ostentatious consumption for government officials, who are supposed to live on modest sums and lead morally exemplary lives.

Corruption in international sport is in focus due to United States and Swiss probes into soccer's world governing body FIFA, the worst crisis in its 112-year history. Doping scandals have also hit tennis and athletics.

Although Beijing hosted the 2008 Summer Games to wide acclaim, its bid for the Winter Games had been dogged by concerns over a number of issues such as the city's notorious smog problem, a lack of snow and China's poor human rights record.

The report made no mention of any of those issues.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard, editing by Ed Osmond)