POSTED: February 14th 2015
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Almaty 2022: Pulling out the stops to take the Olympic Dream to the next level

(L to R) Jacqueline Barrett, IOC Head of Bid City Relations, and Alexander Zhukov, IOC Member and Chairman of the 2022 Evaluation Commission as they commence the session / SFC
(L to R) Jacqueline Barrett, IOC Head of Bid City Relations, and Alexander Zhukov, IOC Member and Chairman of the 2022 Evaluation Commission as they commence the session / SFC

(L to R) Alexander Zhukov and Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov met the press for photos at the start of the session / SFC
(L to R) Alexander Zhukov and Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov met the press for photos at the start of the session / SFC

LAURA WALDEN at the INTERCONTINENTAL HOTEL in ALMATY / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) The International Olympic Committee (IOC) began their four day Evaluation Commission meeting this morning at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Almaty, Kazakhstan.

Almaty is bidding against Beijing, China to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and is the first city to host the IOC investigators February 14-18 then they will visit Beijing in March 24-28 then the IOC team will go through a series of evaluations to create the final report card on their assessment of the bid plan.

The Olympic press corps followed behind the IOC team and they had a day mixed with briefings and site visits to get out of the boardroom and into the snow and out on the slopes. And Almaty can deliver great snow with weather conditions often scaling below 0 degrees Celsius. These would be winter Olympics without a question of temperature.

The Almaty bid has coined the tagline "Keeping it Real" and SportsFeatures.com  talking exclusively to Ilya Urazakov, Executive Director of the Almaty 2022 Bid Committee, wants to underline that the message is simple. This is a no frills bid and they have tried to tone down the budget and maximize the current existing facilities with renovations respecting the Olympic Agenda 2020 plan.

Today the IOC and the press visited the Ak Bulak zone which would host biathlon and cross country skiing, the current AIBA training area which would serve as the Ak Bulak Olympic Village, and then the Tabagan area that would host the alpine and freestyle skiing.

This author attended the Winter Asian Games back in 2011 and experienced the Ak Bulak venue in action and I was quite impressed with the competitions at the time. It was a brand new facility built in 2010 and well served the continental event and would be an asset for the Olympic Games should the IOC decide to give Almaty the nod.

Vice chairman Vladimir Smirnov, an eight time Olympic Medalist in cross country skiing, was very supportive of the compact bid plan for Almaty and felt that the Kazakh bid offered an athletes' friendly option with all the sports venues with in 30km distance from the Olympic Village.

The only drawback to the zones was the weathered and sometimes single lane road accessing the Ak Bulak cluster which could create logistics challenges. However with the 2017 plan for the Universiade officials claim that this will be addressed rendering access easier and more efficient.

One other thing I noticed was that in the past 4 years the city has expanded and there are many newly built buildings and a super modern multi-level American style mall that featured a progressive Leonardo Da Vinci exhibit and a number of classy upscale shopping boutiques to tempt any visiting tourist.

Almaty is a work in progress targeting creating opportunities for the younger generations, while it is only a few decades into its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1993 it is a county that respects its past but embraces a very promising future and is pushing its assets to the max. It is also huge and is the 9th largest country on the planet so there is plenty of room to grow. And the enthusiasm is mounting there is a lot of opportunity.

Maybe the Olympics is just what Kazakhstan needs to push them to the next level. 


Keywords · Olympics · Almaty 2022 · IOC


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Laura Walden ()


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