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  • Heavy Hitters from Almaty, Beijing Ready to Impress -- On the Scene


    (ATR) Chinese basketball star Yao Ming was sighted before a Beijing presentation rehearsal, while Kazakhstan Prime Minister Karim Massimov and other prominent officials from Almaty 2022 arrived in Kuala Lumpur.

    Yao Ming & Beijing 2022 staff ready for presentation rehearsal (ATR)
    The Beijing and Almaty bid delegations will rely on heavy hitters in last ditch efforts to convince IOC members that they are the best choice to host the 2022 Winter Games.

    Prior to their rehearsal at the downtown Kuala Lumpur Conference Center, Beijing 2022 held two more semi-informal press conferences in an extremely overcrowded room on the eighth floor of the adjacent Travers hotel.

    Beijing 2022 vice president of communications Wang Hui tried to keep the mood light despite the mounting pressure ahead of Friday’s (July 31) vote.

    “It’s a pity that this room is too crowded here because we’re not in Beijing,” Wang joked to the media.

    Around the Rings editor Ed Hula received a nice compliment from Wang after posing a tough follow-up question regarding Beijing’s proposed high speed train.

    “Your Chinese has improved so much,” Wang said referring to the ATR boss’ excellent pronunciation of Zhangjiakou, one of the two mountain clusters in Beijing’s bid plan

    It was advised that while the train should take 52.5 minutes between Beijing and Zhangjiakou, it would likely be closer to 80 minutes for a journalist to transport from a downtown hotel to a venue in the second mountain cluster.

    Chinese pairs figure skaters Zhao Hongbo and Shen Xu fielded questions from the media aiming to dazzle just as they did during their three Olympic medal performances on ice.

    Journalists asked the married Olympians and various officials from Beijing’s delegation pointed questions about Beijing’s lack of natural snow, the effects of air pollution on athletes and the recent firing of a high ranking Chinese sport official following corruption charges.

    As usual with the Beijing delegation, all representatives were well prepared with answers, although a few responses seemed to contradict excerpts related to snowfall totals and estimation of adequate water supply as noted in the IOC
    Evaluation Commission report.

    Kazakh Politicians, Athletes Lobby for Almaty’s Dream

    Kazakh leader Massimov arrived in the Malaysian capital accompanied by other senior government officials including Minister of Foreign Affairs Yerlan Idrissov, Minister of Sport Arystanbek Mukhamediuly and NOC president Temirkhan Dosmukhambetov.

    Massimov, who has been Kazakhstan’s prime minister since April 2014, and previously from January 2007 until September 2012, will meet with select media at a Wednesday (July 29) afternoon roundtable session at the Grand Hyatt Kuala Lumpur.

    Kazakh athlete ambassadors Karina Uzurova & Denis Ten (ATR)
    Unlike in the earlier stages, Massimov’s presence and staunch support of Almaty’s bid have been significant over recent weeks.

    Like their Chinese rivals, members of the Almaty 2022 delegation went through a dress rehearsal for Friday’s final presentation to the IOC.

    "We had an excellent general rehearsal this morning in the presentation room," said Almaty 2022 vice chairman Andrey Kryukov.

    “The room is beautiful and ideally set up to showcase the beauty of Almaty and the key differentiators of our bid, which show why Almaty is the best choice for a true Winter Games experience for the Games’ most important stakeholders, the athletes,” he said.

    Almaty 2022 will officially meet with media for the first time on Wednesday morning. Representatives include Kryukov, Sochi 2014 figure skating bronze medalist Denis Ten and 2012 Youth Olympian ice dancer Karina Uzurova.

    The articulate and extroverted figure skater Ten – who stands just five-foot-six inches tall, two feet shorter than Ming – will attempt to play an equally large role as the giant Chinese basketball player will do for Beijing in Almaty’s quest to win the Games.

    The IOC will elect the host city for the 2022 Winter Games on Friday, July 31 in addition to choosing between Lausanne and Brasov, Romania for the 2020 Winter Youth Olympic Games.

    IOC Reveals New-Look Session, Presentation Rooms

    The Almaty and Beijing delegations, IOC members and online viewers will enjoy and benefit from sleek-looking and innovative new designs of the rooms used for Friday’s session and bid presentations.

    IOC boss Thomas Bach on day 1 of IOC EB in Kuala Lumpur (ATR)
    The session room offers an open, circular design intended to encourage dialogue, debate and the exchange of views. It is dismountable and will become the permanent home of the IOC Session.

    “The meeting room will travel from session to session and will become a regular image of the members in a parliamentary setting,” said IOC president Thomas Bach.

    “Both the session room and the presentation room will become part of our identity and instantly recognizable as the IOC at work in a spirit of discussion and dialogue.”

    The rooms can be adapted depending on the number of candidate cities taking part, but the concept is one that will be re-used at each session.

    “Election day for an Olympic Games host city is about the candidate cities and the focus will be entirely on them,” Bach said. “At the same time, the new look of the presentation and announcement room is of a very high standard, one that reflects what the world expects from an Olympic Games host.”

    Both rooms can be seen by the public during live-streams of the presentations and election on July 31, in addition to throughout the session which runs until August 3.

    Written by Brian Pinelli in Kuala Lumpur

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