(ATR) Kazakhstan is set to push ahead with bid plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics after earning high praise from the Olympic Council of Asia for hosting the 7th Asian Winter Games.
OCA vice president Timothy Fok said the event that concluded Sunday was “a great success for all". Kazakhstan staged the Winter Asiad in two cities, the capital Astana and in Almaty, and finished top of the medals table.
“Your passion for winter sports burns as bright as the Olympic flame, and your pride in your country has moved us all: during the torch relay, at the opening ceremony, in the stadiums of Astana and the mountains of Almaty," he was quoted as saying at the closing ceremony.
Speaking later at a press conference in Almaty, Fok said: “We were very satisfied and impressed by the high quality of the Games operation and by the tremendous efforts made by the Kazakhstan government and all its citizens.
“There is no doubt that Kazakhstan deserves the top ranking in the medal tally, not only because of their own excellent athletes but also because of the determination and effort engaged by the Kazakhstan government and by President Nursultan Abishuly Nazarbayev."
“I am sure many generations of Kazakhstan people will benefit from the legacies of the 7th AWG," he was quoted in a report on the OCA website.
On the eve of the event, IOC president Jacques Rogge confirmed that Kazakhstan was planning to bid for the 2022 Winter Games following his discussions with the Kazakhstan government.
After Almaty's unsuccessful bid for the 2014 Olympics, the country's sports leaders may now look to put together a joint Astana-Almaty bid for 2022.
In an OCA release on the
Kazakhstan won silver in the men's team ski jumping event (Getty)
7th Asian Winter Games, its director general Husain Al-Musallam highlighted the strong commitment of the Astana and Almaty governments in delivering the event, a united effort that bodes well for an Olympic bid.
The OCA said it was pleased with the high standard of competition at the 7th AWG where 10 new Asian records were set.
President Nazarbayev closed the Games in Almaty on Sunday night. In his address to the IOC officials, VIPs, athletes and spectators in attendance, he said the Asian Winter Games had shown off the quality of Kazakhstan's infrastructure and facilities and demonstrated its major event capabilities.
Almaty mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov told the audience at the Baluan Sholak Sport Palace that Kazakhstan was proud to have hosted the high-profile competition.
“We have become closer to each other, not only in sport but also in culture,” he told the athletes from the 27 national Olympic committees who participated, according to a report on the OCA website.
“We are not saying goodbye. I am sure there will be more meetings in the future.”
The OCA flag was handed over to the vice mayor of Sapporo, Noriaki Ikushima. Sapporo will host the 8th Asian Winter Games in 2017.
Hosts Make Medal History
Kazakhstan finished atop the medals table at the Asian Winter Games for the first time in its history.
The country's winter sports athletes won the most gold medals - 32 of 69 available - and the most medals in total (70). Kazakhstan’s previous best was second in 1996 in Harbin, China, with 14 gold medals.
Japan came second in the medal table with 13 gold medals, 24 silver and 17 bronze, totalling 54. Korea trailed in third, notching 13 golds in their 38-medal haul. China could come only fourth with 35 medals.
Written by Mark Bisson
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