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  • The World Cup Beckons for China -- Op Ed


    (Jeff Ruffolo)
    (ATR) When you are sitting on top of the world of international sport, you can do just about anything you want.

    So it is for the nation of China and city of Beijing as they play host to members of the International Olympic Committee and the Olympic Council of Asia to present its bid to win the right to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

    Doing the math over the past seven years, China has played host to:
    • The 2008 Beijing Summer Olympic Games
    • The World University Games
    • The 16th Asian Games in Guangzhou
    • The OCA Beach Games
    • The OCA Asian Youth Games, and
    • The Youth Olympic Games
    And of course, don’t forget the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai.

    In doing so, the nation of China has used these global events to tenaciously rebuild the infrastructure of four of its major cities (Beijing, Guangzhou, Nanjing and Shanghai) while producing some of the world most iconic architectural structures including the Bird’s Nest (National Stadium), the Water Cube (Aquatics Centre) and one of the world’s tallest buildings in the Canton Tower in Guangzhou.

    It seems as if the Chinese are on a roll and in the two-city race between Beijing and Almaty to host these Winter Games, it looks as though China should be a shoo-in to host.

    In reality, the bosses in Beijing are quietly looking forward now to the last and greatest prize of all, the World Cup. As it is in the nature of the Chinese nation to continually look into the future, there is little doubt China will shortly turn its gaze to hosting the World Cup in 2026. That seems like an awfully long way away, but in the world of global sport, it is right around the corner.

    The Bird's Nest in Beijing would likely be the centerpiece of a Chinese World Cup bid. (Getty Images)
    And should it decide to go for a World Cup bid, China can direct FIFA to:

    • Major sports stadiums in Beijing, Guangzhou, Tianjin and two in Shanghai
    • Ultra-modern airports in all major host cities
    • Interconnecting high speed rail to all major metropolitan markets, and
    • Exceptional five-star hotel and accommodation facilities

    Equally important, but many times overlooked, is the human quotient.

    When I worked for the Beijing Olympic Organizing Committee, I was the most experienced member of the senior staff, having been a three-time Summer Olympic sportscaster for Westwood One at the 1996 Atlanta, 2000 Sydney and 2004 Athens Summer Games.

    Today, China has hundreds of internationally experienced staff members who are battle tested from hosting some of the most challenging events on the planet. These individuals are ready at a moment’s notice should China host the Winter Games or World Cup. With a population of 1.3 billion, people are China’s greatest natural asset.

    However, should the Chinese government elect to sit out the bid for the World Cup in 2026 and go for a bid in 2030 or 2034 – it’s no matter.

    The Bird’s Nest isn’t going anywhere.

    Jeff Ruffolo served as the senior expert on media and communications for the 2008 Beijing Summer Olympics; 2010 Asian Games Guangzhou; 2013 Asian Youth Games Nanjing and 2014 Youth Olympic Games Nanjing.

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