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Nazarbayev on Almaty's bid for 2022 Winter Olympics

22 december 2014, 17:39
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Nursultan Nazarbayev during the meeting with media representatives. Frame of STV Channel.
Nursultan Nazarbayev during the meeting with media representatives. Frame of STV Channel.

Kazakhstan’s President Nursultan Nazarbayev has discussed the feasibility of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Almaty during an half-an-hour Q&A session with media representatives, Tengrinews reports citing the live broadcast of the STV channel.

Almaty's bid for the Olympic Games in 2022 brought about many questions among the people of Kazakhstan with most of them being concerned about the financial aspect. Many people began to question the feasibility of hosting this major event. Some said it was not the right time to host big events especially given the economic crisis around the world and the enourmous costs of the Olympics.

On the other side, hosting the Games will improve Kazakhstan’s image on international stage and even help boost the country's economy by attracting foreign investors and tourists.

During the meeting with the representatives of Kazakhstan's leading media, Nursultan Nazarbayev shared his thoughts about Almaty's bid to host the Winter Olympics. 

“I also had doubts. It takes much to host such a gigantic Olympics. And people are concerned about the costs, and whether it is worth it or not. I have been thinking about it a lot and working on it with my colleagues. We need to consider several things: there is a skating rink high in the mountains near Almaty that is ready for the Olympics, world-class ski jumping complex is in place, a biathlon complex that we built for the Asian Games is ready. Almaty will host the Universiade in 2017. We are now building an ice rink that will be finished soon. There will be two of them: a warming-up skating rink and a 12,000-seat stadium. The Olympic Committee made a decision to hold (the Olympic Games) in the two cities, that is, Astana will also be involved,” President said.

“Besides the open-air skating rink we will also put our indoor skating rink to use: there are Medeu (high-mountain skating rink) and (Boluan Sholak) ice rink in Almaty. One of the large venues that we still need to build is the Olympic Village. But we are planning to build a dormitory for students in Almaty. This (the Olympic Village) also involves housing and dormitories. All this will stay (after the Olympics) and will be fully used. Of course, it is also necessary to expand the city's infrastructure, clean the city, the environment and so on. Building a bobsleigh track that Almaty does not have yet will be the most costly project. There will be some spending, but not as much as everyone thinks,” Nazarbayev continued. 

According to the Kazakh President, the International Olympic Committee promised to provide around 1 billion dollars to Kazakhstan for hosting the Olympic Games (if it wins the bid).

“If we want to make Almaty an international financial hub, we need the world to learn about Almaty as it learnt about Astana when we hosted an OSCE Summit and Asian Games. Kazakhstan will once again be heard around the world. I cannot say that we will spend nothing. We have to spend, but not 50, 40 or 30 billion. We will have to spend some money. Besides, all facilities left after the Olympics will be 100 percent used,” President Nazarbayev said.

Kazakhstan's Almaty was tagged the outsider in the race by the IOC work group, but it now is the only official candidate to host the 2022 Winder Olympic Games left besides Chinese Beijing. Norwegian Oslo, Ukrainian Lviv, Swiss Stockholm, Polish Krakow have all withdrawn from the bidding process: most of them cited financial reasons.

Although the host city will be announced only next summer in Kuala-Lumpur, Almaty has good chances to win that bid now. First of all, Almaty has almost all the required facilities to host this major sport event that are located close to each other (within a 35km radius) compared to Chinese Beijing. Second, Beijing already hosted the Summer Olympics in 2008 and it decreases the chances of the city to host the same sport event in winter again.

Moreover, Almaty has hosted a number of large-scale sport events including World Boxing Championship, Sambo World Cup stage, Judo Grand Prix, Ski Jumping Grand Prix as well as the Asian Winter Games in 2011 and it would also host the Winter Universiade in 2017.

Almaty is expected to host a number of sport events in this coming sport season as well. The city is preparing to hold the World Cup Speed Skating, Speedway World Cup, World Judo Championship, World Equestrian Games, as well as FIS (International Ski Federation) Alpine World Ski Championship and FIS Nordic Junior World Ski Championship.

Hosting such big sport events is a huge experience for the city that would help it prepare for the Winter Universiade in 2017 and for the Winter Olympic Games in 2022 if it wins the bid.

By Assel Satubaldina

 

 


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