(ATR) Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov expounded upon his city and country’s economic stability and growth, while emphasizing that their bid is entirely in accordance with Olympic Agenda 2020.
Yessimov addressed international media, while accompanied by other Almaty bid leaders at a press conference one day prior to the IOC selection of a host city for the 2022 Games.
Almaty Mayor Akmetzhan Yessimov speaks to reporters in Kuala Lumpur. (ATR)
“The Almaty GDP alone exceeds the GDP of some neighboring countries of Kazakhstan and irrespective of the world crisis. Almaty demonstrates sustainable development,” Massimov said.
Massimov advised that Almaty’s economic growth since the launch of their first Olympic bid in the mid 2000’s has been “two-fold” and in 2014, the city grew at 7.1% in terms of GDP. In the first quarter of 2015, the GDP has increased 8%.
The mayor said important infrastructure projects are progressing rapidly.
“We have significantly improved the mass transit system in our city and recently we launched the first underground line in our country, which of course is in Almaty,” Yessimov said.
Several new winter sports venues were built for Almaty’s hosting of the 2011 Asian Winter Games, while aging facilities from the country’s Soviet days have been substantially upgraded.
Almaty’s bid concept appears to be in line with IOC President Thomas Bach’s Olympic Agenda 2020, the road map for the future of the Movement.
“I can tell you that as a candidate city, we scrutinized the IOC Agenda 2020,” Massimov said.
Almaty's "Keeping it real" slogan is prominently displayed at events in Kuala Lumpur. (ATR)
“Currently, we could say based on the IOC’s Evaluation Commission assessment after their visit in February, they recognized that 70% of Almaty’s venues are already ready for the Games.”
The existing venues have seen plenty of action, being tested at numerous FIS World Cups, figure skating events, in addition to the 2011 Asian Games, which received high marks from athletes. Winter Universiade comes to Almaty in 2017 and will increase the percentage of venues ready for the 2022 Games up to 80 percent.
“Our concept is based on existing winter sports venues, not venues that will be modified from summer to winter venues,” said Almaty bid vice chairman Andrey Kryukov. “They are real existing winter sports venues.”
Only two new venues – a 12,000-seat ice arena and bobsleigh/luge track – would need to be constructed for the 2022 Games, helping to keep development costs very reasonable.
“Construction costs in Almaty for the Olympic venues will be at a minimum level,” the mayor said. “Contributing to the second important point of Agenda 2020, is athlete accessibility of all the venues as well as the design level of comfort.”
“I believe that Almaty 100 percent matches with IOC Agenda 2020,” Massimov said.
“In reality, this is a big advantage to us to offer the Olympic Movement such a great concept,” Kryukov said. “Our low budget provides us flexibility and the possibility to host the Games very easily."
“It’s just 0.3% of our GDP over the seven years we have ahead,” he said.
Yessimov also pledged full government support for Almaty’s bid advising that Kazakhstan prime minister Karim Massimov and president Nursultan Nazarbayev stand completely behind it. Should there be any shortfall in the cost, the government could utilize Kazakhstan’s $75 billion sovereign wealth fund.
The Almaty mayor is adamant that winning the 2022 Games could change the lives of the citizens of both his city and country.
“I think if we will get these Games it will definitely be a very big impulse for the development of both Almaty city and Kazakhstan.”
Speed skaters compete at Medeu Olympic Oval in this promotional video presented during an Almaty press briefing (ATR)
Almaty’s Future Hinges on IOC Decision
Kryukov discussed Almaty’s vision relative to what hosting the 2022 Olympic Games could mean for the young country – now just 23 years old as an independent state.
“This bid is about more than sport for us, it is about our future,” Kryukov said.
“Almaty 2022 is directly aligned with our country’s long-term strategy called Kazakhstan 2050, which is designed to position Kazakhstan as a top global economy by 2050.
“The 2022 Winter Games will help to put Kazakhstan on the map and raise the global profile.
“The Games will also help to showcase the amazing progress that we’ve made since our independence.”
A host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics will be elected by the IOC tomorrow (July 31) with the announcement expected between 17:30-18:00 local time in Kuala Lumpur.
Written and reported by Brian Pinelli in Kuala Lumpur
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