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Almaty and Beijing prepare for 2022 Olympics verdict

The bid teams from Almaty and Beijing have made their final cases for selection as the destination for the 2022 winter Olympic Games, as the rocky road towards the assignment of the host city rights comes to an end tomorrow (Friday).

The decision on the host of the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic winter Games will be announced at 5.30pm local time in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, following a process that saw many potential applicants fall by the wayside at an early stage.

Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Games in October, leaving only Beijing and Almaty to battle it out for the rights. The Norwegian city became the latest applicant to drop out of the running after the country’s government decided against providing the necessary financial support amid concerns about the cost of staging the Games.

The most recent winter Games last year in Sochi, Russia reportedly cost a record $51bn (€46.3bn), raising concerns about how future host cities could afford to host the event. Oslo was the latest in a long line of cities to ditch a bid, following Stockholm in Sweden, Krakow in Poland and Lviv in Ukraine. Before that, bids from St. Moritz in Switzerland and Munich in Germany were scrapped after public referendums.

Beijing, which staged the 2008 summer Olympics, is bidding to become the first city to stage the summer and winter version of the Games, while Almaty tabled a bid for the 2014 winter Olympics, but failed to make the candidate city shortlist. Speaking today (Thursday), Almaty 2022 sought to stress its ability to deliver a ‘true’ winter Olympics in an environment with abundant levels of snow. Indeed their bid slogan is “keeping it real.”

“Our concept is based on existing winter sport venues, not ones which will be modified from summer to winter sports venues,” Almaty 2022 vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov told a news conference. “It's real winter sports venues which exist in our town. Our town is a real winter town with a real winter sports culture. We have real nature, real mountains and real snow.”

Kazakhstan has already hosted the 2011 Asian winter Games, but is hoping that the Olympics can shine the international spotlight on the former Soviet state. “This bid is about more than sport for us… it's about our future,” Kryukov said. “Almaty 2022 is directly aligned to our country's long-term strategy… which was designed to position Kazakhstan as one of the top global economies by 2050.”

While stressing that Almaty has the financial resources to deliver the Games, Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov said its bid delivers a low-cost strategy with an array of venues and infrastructure already developed – an aspect that is set to key in to the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 efforts.

“Kazakhstan has the financial strength to deliver a great winter Games without spending tens of billions of dollars,” Yessimov said. “Almaty 2022 will serve as a model for future host cities and prove that similar developing nations can host the Games affordably and sustainably.”

Beijing 2022’s vision revolves around the commercial growth potential that a winter Games would offer the development of winter sport, while also utilising the country’s Beijing 2008 summer Games legacy to guarantee successful delivery and full alignment with the spirit and objectives of Agenda 2020.

Wang Anshun, Mayor of Beijing and president of Beijing 2022, said: “We believe Beijing 2022 is the right partner for the IOC at this crucial time of transformation, playing our part to support the Olympic Agenda 2020 principles that are setting the foundation for the Olympic Movement to continue to grow sustainably to 2022 and beyond. We have proven our ability to work with the Olympic Family to host spectacular Games, which helps us to offer guaranteed delivery of a successful Games in 2022. We have the passionate and experienced people who know what it takes to stage a Games and we are ready to start tomorrow.  We offer the proven capability to host the Games and much more: the chance for winter sports to reach millions of new people and grow into the future.”

Beijing 2022 has outlined that China offers significant potential for the growth of winter sports, with the Chinese government having previously set the development of the country’s sports industry a main priority. Under this long-term plan seeking to attract 300 million people to ice and snow sports, the sport industry is expected to grow rapidly to $800bn by 2025 through promoting sports businesses, developing key sport facilities and opening up an expanded sport market for consumer products and services in the sector.

Beijing 2022’s overall marketing revenue target has been conservatively set at $858m, including $660m of sponsorship revenue.  Zhou Xing, head of finance and marketing for Beijing 2022, added: “Beijing 2022 has already secured eight major sponsors across multiple areas and we are fully confident to deliver a successful marketing programme and meet the revenue targets established by the IOC.

“Moreover, a large number of businesses have already indicated their wish to become partner of the Beijing 2022 Games, which gives us further confidence in surpassing our initial marketing revenue targets.”