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Hosting the Winter Olympics is costing China billions of dollars.

But Beijing has long relied on heavy investments in building railway lines, highways and other infrastructure to provide millions of jobs to its citizens and reduce transportation costs.

With the 2022 Games, it also hopes to nurture an abiding interest in skiing, curling, ice hockey and other winter sports that could increase consumer spending, particularly in the country’s chilly and economically struggling northeast.

Perhaps most important of all to China’s leader, Xi Jinping, the Olympics are a chance to demonstrate to the world his country’s unity and confidence under his leadership, Keith Bradsher reports for The New York Times.

“For China’s international image, prestige, and face, as the Chinese would say, nothing is too expensive,” said Jean-Pierre Cabestan, a political scientist at Hong Kong Baptist University.

Still, with China’s economy already slowing, and a dimming outlook for global growth, as well as concerns that the Omicron variant of the coronavirus would lead to more shutdowns and choking of global supply chains, Beijing has been wary of spiraling costs. Even Mr. Xi acknowledged the event had to be streamlined, saying last year that the aim was to hold a “simple, safe, splendid” event.

China has set a budget of about $3 billion, a figure that includes the building of competition venues, but not projects like a $1 billion high-speed rail line and a $5 billion expressway.

The pandemic is making the Games even more expensive. The bill for last summer’s Olympics in Tokyo included $2.8 billion in coronavirus prevention costs alone. China’s “zero Covid” strategy, which focuses on eradicating outbreaks, has meant infection control measures are much more elaborate.

China’s concerns about the pandemic have dashed hopes that the Games would draw tourists. READ THE FULL ARTICLE →

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