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China's Harbin considering bid for 2018 Winter Games

BEIJING -- Four months after serving as host of the Summer Olympics in Beijing, China is mulling a bid
to host the 2018 Winter Games in the northern city of
Harbin, state media said on Thursday, quoting a government
official.

Harbin, capital of northeastern Heilongjiang province, has
spent $440 million on venues and facilities to
host 4,000 athletes for the World University Winter Games in
February, and would use the event as a dry run, the province's
governor, Li Zhanshu, told the China Daily.

"If the hosting of the 2009 Winter Universiade can win
applause from all the guests, it will enhance our confidence to
bid for the Winter Olympic Games," Li said.

Harbin, famous
for its annual ice sculpture festival, had failed in its bid to host the 2010 Winter Games, awarded to Vancouver.

"If we fail again for the 2018 Games, we are determined to
win the 2022 Winter Games. It's our dream to host China's first
Winter Olympics," Li said, adding that final sign-off for the
bid would come from China's sports ministry.

The bustling city of some five million people would face
competition from Munich, which declared itself a candidate last
December, and from France, where three towns -- Annecy, Nice
and Grenoble -- have indicated interest.

August's Beijing Games were largely hailed as a spectacular
success for China, despite myriad concerns ranging from air
pollution to human-rights abuses.