Reporting from Almaty, Kazakhstan – Day two of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Evaluation Commission inspection of the Almaty 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid was busy but successful for both parties.
Almaty 2022 Vice Chairman Andrey Kryukov explained “I’m encouraged by the feedback so far and impressed by the extremely constructive and supportive style of how the IOC carry out this visit.”
“Today was very good working atmosphere, but it was really unofficial; a feeling of a round-table … a very nice session.
“We cannot say if we are ahead or not. We are as we are. Our slogan is ‘Keeping it real’. We are keeping it real. Accept us as it is,,” he said.
The IOC team members had several site visits planned Sunday but most were within a tight cluster helping to reduce their travel time, something that certainly favours Almaty’s overall plans.
Boasting the concept, Kryukov explained that the IOC tour of the five venues in the cluster was completed in less than 5 hours, and with a 40 minute presentation, the total travel time was less than one hour.
Within clear view of the front lobby of the Ritz Carlton Hotel – the teams’ base for the week – the Sunkar ski jump venue stands amid some of the city’s high rise buildings.
Already built and in operation, the ski jump towers and stadium were constructed for the 2011 Asian Winter Games. The venue is unparalleled in the world – it features five hills, a lower stadium that’s has year-round applications and it’s proximity means that it is easily accessible by city residents. It is already in operation and available for Olympic Games use with only overlay costs to spend.
Alongside the ski jump tower in the Sunkar complex is a the Nordic combined facility that is ready for the Games after minor modifications. The sliding venue for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton is proposed to be situated in the same complex.
A Visit was also made to the future ice palace, a venue already under construction for the 2017 Winter Universiade in that could also host figure skating and hockey for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The venue is expected to host it’s first event, an ice hockey tournament, in August 2016.
Baluan Sholak, an existing ice hockey arena, will provide a secondary hockey ice surface and a training facility.
The commission visited the Central Stadium being offered for the opening and closing ceremonies. Built in 1958, the facility is known for it’s classic Soviet-era architecture and is home to the city’s Kairat football club. But with an addition of a roof and a second seating tier bringing total capacity to 35,000 spectators , it will meet Olympic standards.
The Commission also enjoyed visiting the site of the medals plaza to be located in Almaty’s Republic Square under the Monument of Independence. Also known as the “new square”, this gathering place could provide an iconic background as athletes receive their recognition.
Earlier in the day behind closed doors, the IOC and Almaty 2022 discussed the themes of accommodation, transportation and media operations, sports and venues.
Yelena Yerzakovich, Transport Advisor of Almaty city said “transportation issues one one of the top priorities for the IOC… the city understands the challenges in front of us.”
The bid’s key transportation strategy is to provide several parking lots near the venues and put a focus on dedicated lanes and routes.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan, Yerlan Idrissov, said “I am here today to confirm the full support of the Government of Kazakhstan to the Almaty 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.”
“Our Bid Proposal is fully aligned with our country’s long-term Strategic Plan –‘Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy.’”
Later at a press conference, a Chinese media representative asked Kryukov what city – Almaty or Beijing – he thought had the edge in the race.
Kryukov answered “it’s not about worse or better, it’s about a competition to be more fit to host the Games.”
The IOC restricts bid city representatives from discussing specifics about opposing campaigns..
On Monday the inspection continues with a visit to the popular Medeu outdoor ice rink, the highest in the world.