Olympic Debacle: China Puts 1.4 Million in Mortal Danger to Turn Desolate Landscape Into Winter Wonderland


If you plan on watching the Winter Olympics in Beijing starting on Feb. 4, just realize all those ski slopes you’re seeing are covered in totally fake snow — and the Chinese government put the water supply 1.4 million people rely on at risk to get it done.

According to Bloomberg, the fake snow is straining the water supply of Zhangjiakou, one of the main sites of the 2022 Games. Furthermore, China has built up the site as their “version of the Alps, creating an upscale winter holiday destination in the hopes of lifting an agricultural region out of poverty.”

Which doesn’t explain where they’ll be able to drink once they’re lifted out of poverty, but such is life in Winnie the Pooh’s Hundred-Acre Communist Wood.

It’s not as if this is the only reason to boycott the 2022 Games, given the Chinese Communist Party’s abysmal human rights record, genocide of Uyghurs in Xinjiang and bellicosity toward Taiwan and its neighbors in the South China Sea. And yet, President Joe Biden’s administration has only managed a weak diplomatic boycott of the event in response.

(Here at The Western Journal, we don’t think American or Western athletes should be competing at this tainted Olympiad — and we’re going to keep bringing readers the ugly truth about it. You can help us by subscribing.)

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While other Olympic Games have used artificial snow, which has the advantage of being more densely packed and consistent, Zhangjiakou isn’t the place to be doing it — and not just because it receives minimal snow.

For starters, the Beijing-Zhangjiakou region tends to be dry, with little winter precipitation. That dryness means much of the water is lost during the snow-making process due to evaporation. High winds don’t help, either, and more water has to be pumped into the ground to freeze it before snow can be layered atop it.

For the Olympics, China could end up using 2 million cubic meters of water to turn Zhangjiakou into a winter wonderland, University of Strasbourg geographer Carmen de Jong estimated, according to Bloomberg. To put that in perspective, that’s enough H2O to fill 800 Olympic-sized swimming pools. And this will mark the first Winter Olympics that will completely rely on artificial snow for skiing and snowboarding events.

De Jong also estimated, in an article for environmentalist publication Treehugger, that “Beijing will need an estimated 49 million gallons of water to create the artificial snow required for its events.”

The city of Zhangjiakou has 1.4 million residents with the wider prefectural metro area home to a total of 4.1 million.

Hong Kong-based environmentalist group China Water Risk said over half of Zhangjiakou is “highly water stressed.”

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Meanwhile, residents only have one-fifth the water resources per capita when compared to the average Chinese person. Consider, then, that in the Zhangjiakou district of Chongli, a spokesperson for the Beijing Winter Olympics said almost 10 percent of the water will go toward making snow to cover barren brown hills, Bloomberg reported.

“There is bound to be some impacts in a region where there is nearly no water in the winter,” de Jong said, according to Bloomberg.

“For half a year, during the snow sports season, the water stays away from the natural ecosystem.”

It’s not just that Beijing is using the scarce water resources in Zhangjiakou to cover brown, arid hills with snow for the Olympic Games.

Even the unsuitable climate, Bloomberg reported, “hasn’t stopped China from investing heavily in Zhangjiakou’s tourism industry since Beijing won its bid for the Winter Olympic Games in 2015.

“Today it has seven bustling ski resorts, and the city receives 3 million skiers annually. A fast train that opened in 2019 takes only 50 minutes from Beijing, enabling quick weekend trips. According to the State Sport Administration, China has already achieved its goal of having 300 million people participate in snow and ice sports. It’s also built 650 skating centers and 800 ski resorts nationwide.”

In short, the damage isn’t just going to be done over a two-week athletic competition. The race to turn Zhangjiakou into a popular winter tourist destination has long been on, and the Olympics is the flagship advertising event.

Should the U.S. have boycotted the Beijing Winter Olympics?

So, where are some of the Olympics’ biggest sponsors on this?

After all, top IOC sponsors  — like Airbnb, Coca-Cola and Toyota — have no problem embracing wokeness and sustainability on other fronts, but they seem strangely quiet about everything involving these games: human rights abuses, genocide, propaganda and environmental abuses.

As China embarks on an effort that could threaten the water supply of 1.4 million people, surely you’d expect at least a peep out of one of them. Apparently not.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture