Reporting from Olympic Museum in Lausanne, Switzerland – Almaty’s bid for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games was quick to dispel any perception of the financial risk that was first raised last week when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) evaluation commission cast doubt on the oil-price sensitive economy.
In Tuesday’s presentation to the IOC a $75 billion (USD) national reserve, or wealth fund, was described that helps stabilize the nation’s resource-based economy. It effectively takes the issue off of the table, possibly spinning it as an advantage for the city that’s considered the underdog in the two-bid race against rival Beijing.
IOC President Thomas Bach reflected this new perception when he said the bid was sustainable, affordable and offered a balance budget.
He also said “Almaty plans to develop a traditional winter sports centre, and leave the lasting legacy of transforming the region.”
The financial issue has been seen as the bid’s greatest weakness throughout the campaign, rendering it unable to compete against the giant Chinese economy. But with the funds ready to help stabilize the economy and protect the organization of the Games, critics of Kazakhstan’s bid may have to look elsewhere for an Achilles heal.
Defending against the other notable risk in the IOC’s report, bid officials claim that 60 per cent of hotel accommodations exist and the additional rooms will be delivered by 2022 with a joint government guarantee in place. The IOC was concerned that there wouldn’t be enough rooms in time for the Games.
Almaty 2022 Vice Chairman Andrey Kryukov also assured that the Olympic Charter will be respected and the Host City Contract signed with respect to the protection of human rights. Both Almaty and Beijing have been called out for human rights violations by special interest groups.
Kryukov went to lengths emphasizing his city’s greatest advantage over rival Beijing – it’s winter climate and snow, all available close to the city.
“Almaty is a winter sports city,” he said.
“It’s created by nature, and our geographical location confirms that.
“We will not change our city simply too get the Games.”
Yet IOC members seem generally unconcerned with Beijing’s lack of cold, snow and water in the Zhangjiakou snow cluster.
IOC Member from Ukraine Sergey Bubka told insidethegames that “today, you can have natural or artificial snow, I do not see this as an issue.”
The IOC has less than two month to figure this out. They’ll vote for the winner on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur.