ASTANA – Tens of thousands of residents of Almaty, Astana, Oral and other cities enthusiastically took part in bike rides and other events May 23 to celebrate International Olympic Day and demonstrate support for Kazakhstan’s largest city’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Starting from the Sunkar international ski jump complex, Almaty participants finished their bike ride at the central stadium, where volleyball, table tennis, arm wrestling and other activities were arranged, reported Kazinform news agency.
“Today, we opened a bike ride event in the framework of International Olympic Day, which has a special significance for us since our city is bidding to host the [Winter] Olympics in 2022. Thousands of people passed through the streets of the city, thus confirming the commitment of people from Almaty city to a healthy lifestyle,” said mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov, who also handed awards to the most active cyclists in various categories.
A message of greeting on behalf of International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach was delivered by Kazakh National Olympic Committee Vice President Pavel Novikov.
“Olympic Day is a perfect opportunity to attract young people to a healthy lifestyle. Let’s keep these wonderful traditions. Continue to explore and discover new sports, create, inspire, be active,” read the IOC President’s statement.
According to the city administration website, Olympic champions, world champions and other outstanding Kazakh sportsmen and politicians, as well as college and high school students attended the festive race. Wheelchair athletes also participated in the event, covering a distance of 100 metres. For the participants’ entertainment, 4,000 servings of ice cream, beverages, Olympic symbols, and, of course, certificates were provided for the runners.
The detailed dossier prepared by the bid committee will be presented for the IOC members’ scrutiny next month, announced director of the state fund directorate of international sports projects of Almaty Ilya Urazakov during a special May 20 press conference.
“A technical report will be provided from June 9-10 at the headquarters of the International Olympic Committee, which is in Lausanne (Switzerland). Almaty and Beijing (China), the contenders to host the Olympic Games in 2022, are to present their applications to all members of the IOC,” he said
In addition to representatives of the Almaty 2022 bid committee and Kazakhstan’s National Olympic Committee in Lausanne, the nation’s senior officials will join the presentation, Urazakov added. The proposal will be given online and everyone will be able to ask questions about the application and concept of the games.
“In Lausanne, Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov will join the team. … Timur Kulibayev and the newly-elected head of the nation’s paralympic committee Kairat Boranbayev expressed a desire to attend the event. Now we are clarifying this list. … It is important to show that our bid is supported [by senior officials],” he said.
With several other potential bidders pulling out of the running, only Beijing and Almaty remain. The IOC will choose the host city July 31 at its meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.