ASTANA – The International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Evaluation Commission conducted its review of Almaty’s bid to host the 2022 winter games on Feb. 14-18, following which its leader stated the city is “able to host the Olympics”.
The head of the National Olympic Committee and Deputy Prime Minister of Russia Alexander Zhukov, who led the IOC evaluation mission, gave the IOC’s preliminary views on Kazakhstan’s bid at a press conference on Feb. 18.
“I can say that our visit confirmed that Almaty is able to host the Olympics,” Zhukov said at that briefing. He added that the city, which will host the Olympics in 2022, will receive $880 million from the IOC.
Almaty already has eight existing venues clustered in a compact area. Beijing, which will be inspected in March and has a more fragmented bid, has two venue clusters as well as Zhangjiakou, which is 190 kilometres northwest of the city. Almaty’s recently unveiled Olympic bid slogan, “Keeping it Real,” was crafted in an attempt to highlight the differences between the Almaty bid and Beijing’s plans, according to Nick Butler of Inside the Games.
General Secretary of National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Timur Dosymbetov said to Sport.kz at a briefing on Feb. 17: “I am especially pleased to be here with you today. We spent another constructive day with the International Olympic Committee. I have to say that we are delighted by the results of our joint efforts and that the representatives of the evaluating commission were given every opportunity to see how solid a bid our city offers. Kazakhstan has strong past experience when it comes to holding international sporting events. The 2011 Asian Games and the upcoming 2017 Universiade are good examples. There are already many world class venues; 11 of 14 sporting venues are already completed and waiting for the 2017 Universiade. The IOC representatives have taken part in many Olympic Games and they have known about our country for a long time. Places such as Sunkar and the ski-biathlon complex are completely ready to hold any sporting event. The games could benefit Almaty’s development. Every sports venue is a piece of heritage that will be passed on to our future generations.”
A report on legal concerns, event safety, the Paralympic Games, marketing, finance, political and public support and medical services was given by 30 speakers representing the Almaty bid team at a closed door meeting on Feb. 17, according a report by Around the Rings.
The speakers said that Kazakhstan is 17out of 42 countries in the Asian Pacific Region in regards to finances. The country’s total GDP is $240 billion, which is 5 percent more than in 2013 and has a five-year growth rate of 4.8 percent.
The Almaty team stated that $100 million will be required to prepare a proper resort for the games, but the venue is already fully operational with modern amenities for elite and recreational skiers.
The IOC evaluating commission, including 14 members from various countries, was shown a model of the Olympic Village, which would be a completely new cluster to be built if the games are awarded to Kazakhstan. There are plans for a light rail connection connecting the Olympic Village to a transport mall, the Olympic Family hotel, the Main Broadcast Centre (MBC) and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC) as well as the Media Village, figure skating arenas and short track speed skating tracks. The IBC will include a temporary section, which will be removed to leave a scaled back convention centre when the facilities go into legacy mode after the games, according to GameBids.com.
Also, the IOC team visited the future ice palace, which could also host figure skating and hockey during the 2022 games and Baluan Sholak Ice Hockey Arena, which could serve as a secondary training facility and ice hockey rink.
The commission also visited the Central Stadium, which is being proposed as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies. Construction of a roof and a second seating tier will increase its total capacity to a maximum of 35,000 spectators, according to Around the Rings.
The IOC team visited the Medals Plaza, which could serve as a backdrop for medal ceremonies, and Medeu, an outdoor speed skating and bandy rink. It is situated in a mountain valley 1,691 metres above sea level, making it the highest skating rink in the world. Medeu has 10.5 thousand square metres of ice and utilises a sophisticated freezing and watering system to ensure ice quality. The facility includes five hills, ski jump towers and a stadium. It is planned that the bobsledding, luge and skeleton events will be held at the complex.
Kazakh Foreign Minister Erlan Idrissov met the evaluation commission in Almaty on Feb. 15
stressing that Kazakhstan was proud to participate in the contest to host the Winter Olympic Games. “We are proud to show the world what Kazakhstan represents,” he said, according to a press release from the foreign ministry.
Idrissov emphasised that Almaty was the ideal venue for the Winter Olympics. “The biggest advantage of Almaty is its geographical location. Located at the crossroads of Western and Eastern civilisations, Almaty was an important part and a treasure of the Great Silk Road,” he said.
He also presented numerous facts and arguments in favour of choosing Almaty as the venue for the Olympics. “The 2011 Asian Winter Games demonstrated that Almaty can create truly winter, excellent conditions for such games. Almaty has good sporting heritage, many world records were set there, and the Medeu became famous throughout the world,” he noted.
“If Almaty is elected to host the Olympic Games, Almaty Olympics will have the most compact area coverage over the past three decades. There is already a large part of the infrastructure constructed. Out of the 14 necessary facilities 8 have already been built and are in use, 3 more sports facilities will be built for the Universiade 2017. We will need to build additional three facilities. Thus, the Olympics in Almaty promise to be one of the less expensive games in the past ten years. It will also bring great investments for the city residents and Kazakhstan, as a whole,” he said.
“Holding the Olympic Games in Almaty will be a great honour for us and bring pride to all Kazakhs and future generations. This will give a powerful impetus to the development of winter sports in the country. It is also a great opportunity to show the world the achievements of the country with the Soviet past which has achieved enormous economic and political success and seeks to enter the top 30 developed countries,” he said.
He also added that sports facilities built for the Olympics would continue to serve people afterwards, meeting one of the most important criteria for choosing the venue by the IOC.
According to Zhukov, in case the Olympic Games 2022 take place in Almaty, the mountain ski competition would be moved from Shymbulak to the Almatau ski resort.
“The bid committee made a proposal to transfer all mountain ski competitions from Shymbulak to Almatau due to technical reasons, because the International Ski Federation said that Shymbulak is not an appropriate venue for such events,” said Zhukov.
After the March visit to Beijing, the IOC evaluation commission will publish its full report on June 1. On June 9, candidate cities will be able to submit their applications directly at a briefing at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The host city of the 2022 games will be announced on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur.