By Duncan Mackay
October 15 - There seems set to be only three bidders for the 2018 Winter Olympics after the Chinese city of Harbin dropped plans to bid because the Chinese Government refused to support it.
The application by the northern metropolis was declined by China’s General Administration of Sport (GAS) late last month, an official in Haribin's sports bureau said.
Li Chunlei said: "GAS suggested Harbin not launch the bid for the 2018 Winter Games because there was very little chance of success.
"The timing is premature.
"Beijing just hosted a Summer Olympics last year."
Harbin, the capital city of Heilongjiang province, is keen to host China’s first Winter Games but failed to make the shortlist for the 2010 Games, which will take place in Vancouver.
Li said: "We had failed a bid of the 2010 Games.
"A second failure in succession would harm our future chances."
In September, China's Sports Minister Liu Peng had said GAS would back a bid from any enthusiastic city.
A GAS workgroup to inspect the preparation was sent to Harbin in late August, but they later advised the city did not yet have the conditions to host a Winter Olympic Games, according to Li.
Cities must inform the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their interest in bidding for the 2018 Games by today.
The IOC will announce the winner at Session in Durban on July 6, 2011.
Munich, South Korea’s Pyeongchang and Annecy of France have all expressed interest in bidding.
The 2014 Winter Games will take place in Sochi, Russia.
September 2009: China could still be a contender for 2018 Winter Olympics