President Nursultan Nazarbayev has approved Almaty’s candidature to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. The offi cial bid has to be lodged with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by November 14 this year, and the vote will take place at the IOC meeting in Kuala Lumpur in June 2015.
Announcing the bid at a press conference in Almaty, the Vice-President of the National Olympic Committee, Pavel Novikov, said: “Kazakhstan held the Asian Winter Olympics in 2011; we’re hosting a number of major international competitions; and in 2017 we’re hosting the World Winter Student Games. The logical conclusion to this cycle is the Winter Olympics. We have a lot to do, including building the necessary sporting arenas. But we can do that.”
Mr Novikov’s confidence is based on a solid foundation, since some of the facilities will have to be constructed for the Student Games in 2017. As for the rest, Mr Novikov went on, “We shall have to construct the bobsleigh run, a covered ice stadium and the Olympic Village. And we still need to decide where these will be situated. We recognise that the Olympic Games are a serious step up from the Asian Games or the Student Games – but we’re ready for that.”
When he opened the new “Astana” sports club recently, President Nazarbayev made it clear that his vision for the future Kazakhstan embraces the sporting world, too:
“We have created sports clubs which can uphold the honor of our country at the highest levels of competition. We have produced a galaxy of brilliant sportsmen and women who have brought glory to Kazakhstan by their victories. But we do not intend to stop there. We need to bring together our resources and move up to the highest level of sports management. This will be the springboard by which we will conquer new heights. Our sporting champions, like the other achievements of our country, like the new capital of our Motherland: all this goes to make up the national brand of Kazakhstan. Through sporting successes our country becomes better known; and we show the world our best qualities. The world should know Kazakhstan as a nation of winners.”
Kazakhstan’s sporting stars were quick to endorse the Olympic bid. Olga Shishigina, who won Olympic Gold in the hurdles at the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000, sees this as an opportunity not only to raise the level of sport in Kazakhstan on the international level and to create new sports arenas for the country’s athletes, but as a huge boost for tourism to Kazakhstan, too. Valery Tikhonenko, famous as a star of the Soviet basketball team, described the bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics as, “an example of the forward thinking of the President”. He hoped that the IOC would be convinced that Almaty was the right place to hold the Games. And the wrestler, Islam Bayramukov, spoke of the great boost holding the games in Almaty would provide for the city’s infrastructure.
The race for the 2022 Winter Olympics will begin on November 14.