POSTED: July 30th 2015

Olympics: Almaty 2022 officials 'Keeping It Real!' ahead of IOC vote

From left to right... Andrey Kryukov, Almaty 2022 Vice-Chairman; Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Mayor of Almaty; and Kairat Boranbayev, President of the National Paralympic Committee
From left to right... Andrey Kryukov, Almaty 2022 Vice-Chairman; Akhmetzhan Yessimov, Mayor of Almaty; and Kairat Boranbayev, President of the National Paralympic Committee

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ at the Grand Hyatt in KUALA LUMPUR / Sports Features Communications

(SFC)  The Almaty 2022 Bid Committee offered an impressive video presentation and press conference today just 24 hours in advance of their final presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Full Assembly for hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.  The results of the vote, to take place tomorrow afternoon, will be announced at 5:30pm local time.

Present for today's press conference were Andrey Kryukov, Almaty 2022 Vice-Chairman; Akhmetzhan Yessimov, the Mayor of Almaty; and Kairat Boranbayev, President of the National Paralympic Committee (NPC).

The press conference started with a five minute video clearly articulating the infrastructural vision for an Almaty 2022 Games.  Venue locations, existing infrastructure, multi-use facilities, natural environments, diverse lodging and culinary options, modern transportation, and a sustainable operational model were presented, keeping in line with the motto for their bid - 'Keeping It Real'.

Kryukov explained that "this is a historic day for our country and our people".  As a result of their investment in winter sports over the past two decades, he believes the Almaty 2022 bid is strong, but is about more than just sports... "it is about our future" as the bid is "directly aligned with our country's long-term strategy - Kazakhstan 2050 - which was designed to position Kazakhstan as one of the top global economies.", said Kryukov.  He further explained that the goal of this strategy is "to help accelerate our outgoing effort to brand Kazakhstan as an emerging, friendly, and cosmopolitan partner for the West and all Asia."  

A welcoming Mayor Yessimov, in promoting Almaty as a 'modern city', discussed how the economy of Almaty has grown over the past years resulting from being the financial and economic center of the country, and in turn infrastructure has grown in many areas including culture and sports.   Despite the global economic problem, Yessimov explained that "the Almaty GDP (gross domestic product) exceeds the GDP of several neighboring countries... and irrespective of the world crisis Almaty demonstrates sustainable development"

Yessimov discussed the city of Almaty as an expert is hosting international winter sports events - successfully hosting the 2011 Asian Winter Games, where a number of new facilities were built and existing facilities upgraded - and currently are constructing additional facilities in time for the 2017 Winter Universiade, as well as new transportation, including a new underground subway line.

Yessimov went on to discuss their embracing of the Olympic Agenda 2020, the new strategic roadmap for the Olympic Movement.  He specifically focused on two points... First is "to keep the Olympic Games low cost".  70% of all facilities are currently operational and have been tested by hosting numerous international competitions.  Two new winter sport facilities and an athlete village are already under construction for the Winter Universiade in 2017, which will increase the numbers of venues ready for Almaty 2022 to 80%.  Hence construction costs related to the Olympics are relatively low. 

The second point is as a result of this pre-planning, "the accessibility of all the venues to the athletes, as well as the desired level of comfort" has been taken into account.  This point was reinforced by NPC President Boranbayev, who added that all facilities are being designed and planned for with both Olympic and Paralympic athletes in mind, and that only very small modifications will need to be made to ensure that existing facilities can be used for both the Olympic Games and the Paralympic Games.   

As articulated by Olympic Historian David Miller, "the IOC in the past has twice made a gamble - once with Lillehammer in 1994 and before that with Seoul in 1988 - both retrospectively could be deemed a great success."  Almaty hopes to get that same chance in 2022, and at the same time create a legacy by hosting the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games thereby enhancing the brand of Almaty as a globally-recognized world city.

DR. ERIC C. SCHWARZ is a tenured Senior Lecturer of Sport Management at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia.  He has been an academician for 15 years in the areas of sport business management, international tourism, and hospitality management - with special focus on the areas of sport marketing, sport finance, tourism, and facility/event management.  He speaks globally and is the author of numerous publications in these areas, as well as been actively involved in consulting projects working with a multitude of sport and community organizations ranging from grassroots efforts to hallmark events.  

Keywords · Olympics; 128th IOC Session; Almaty 2022

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