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Winter Olympics 2022 To Be Hosted In Beijing Which Has No Snow And Terrible Human Rights Record

31/07/2015 12:29 BST | Updated 31/07/2015 12:59 BST

The 2022 Winter Olympics is to be hosted in Beijing, prompting anger from human rights campaigners about China's treatment of its citizens - and bafflement from people who pointed out there is little snow.

The Chinese capital was announced as the host today, beating out the only competitor, Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan.

But this confused people given that the city, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics, is not a beloved winter sports hotspot.

The games will be held thanks to "an elaborate, artificial snow-making operation" which will fix the minor detail that the city and the surrounding region have "few mountains and, generally, little actual snow", the New York Times reported.

Almaty, which lost the vote 44 to 40, used the slogan "Keeping It Real", a dig at Beijing's snow issue.

While the snow supply may divide them, a dismal human rights records is something Kazakhstan and China have in common.

Campaigners Human Rights Watch (HRW) said choosing Beijing meant China faced "massive challenges in fulfilling its expressed commitment to human rights".

“The Olympic motto of ‘higher, faster, and stronger’ is a perfect description of the Chinese government’s assault on civil society: more peaceful activists detained in record time, subject to far harsher treatment,” said Sophie Richardson, HRW's China director.

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The Beijing delegation react at the IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, after being revealed as the 2022 hosts

“In choosing China to host another Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has tripped on a major human rights hurdle.”

In January, the IOC noted it had “received assurances” from Chinese authorities that it would improve human rights, but HRW said they did not provide any detail.

Before Beijing won its bid, one of its Olympic committee members: “We are confident that, with the Games coming to China, not only are they going to promote the economy, but also enhance all the social sectors, including education, medical care and human rights.”

In the run-up to the 2008 Summer Olympics, there were forced evictions and a surge in the arrest and harassment of government critics, HRW said.

They warned that human rights in China were at their lowest ebb for 20 years with activists being imprisoned and harassed and renewed efforts to "maintain a chokehold on expression on the Internet and in the media".

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HRW said: "It has drafted or enacted new laws that equate criticisms of the government or Communist Party as threats to state security and set up a new National Security Commission that primarily focuses on maintaining control over society."

The decision means 2022 will be a year two major sporting events are held by strange choices of host: Qatar will host the Fifa World Cup in the winter.