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article imageWe deal in reality not dreams: Almaty Olympic bid vice-chairman

By Pirate Irwin (AFP)     Jul 28, 2015 in Sports

The Almaty bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics is about reality and facts, not dreams and fantasies, their bid vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov told AFP on Tuesday.

He added the slogan adopted for the Kazakh city, 'Keeping it real', has had a major impact on the International Olympic Committee (IOC) members who will choose between them and Beijing on Friday in a vote in Kuala Lumpur.

Indeed the slogan has been widely seen as a sideways dig at Beijing.

For while Almaty has made much of the fact they have venues already built, boast a compact Games complex (all the facilities would be within 33km of Almaty) and real snow, Beijing's alpine skiing events will take place on artificial snow and Chongli, where the Olympic village is proposed, is more than 160 kilometres (100 miles) from Beijing with some venues 200 kilometres away.

Kryukov, born and bred in Almaty, said these factors had played well when they made a presentation to the IOC members in Lausanne in June as they were able to see for themselves for the first time that the Almaty bid was not just about promises.

A large scale model of the Olympic Park project is displayed during a presentation of the Almaty 202...
A large scale model of the Olympic Park project is displayed during a presentation of the Almaty 2022 candidate city bid before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and media in Lausanne on June 10, 2015
Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/File

Under reforms brought in post the Salt Lake City scandal over the awarding of the 2002 winter games to the US city, IOC members -- apart from those on the IOC Evaluation Commission -- are not allowed to visit candidate cities.

"'Keeping it real' has had a big impact," Kryukov told AFP by telephone from Kuala Lumpur.

"We don't speak about fantasies and dreams, we speak facts.

"We are going to maintain the same dynamic, these things exist (venues, snow, compactness)...they are facts.

"A big job has been achieved in the presentation in Lausanne, the perception of the members has been very positive and I have not come across in speaking to either IOC members or heads of federations any high-level criticism.

"We are very optimistic, we are in good shape and we are determined to put on a very good final presentation."

- 'Solid evidence' -

Kryukov, who admitted to AFP in an interview in February a win for Almaty would help improve their human rights record, rejected concerns the fall in the oil price will place financial strains on their organising of the Games.

"We have a sovereign fund set aside of $75 billion," he said.

"Honestly for the IOC members we have to deliver hard solid evidence, otherwise any claims we make are not credible.

"But our government is seriously involved and we have provided the official guarantees that the government will cover the costs."

Kryukov was equally defiant over the worries Kazakhstan does not possess the people with the experience of organising major events.

The logo of Almaty 2022 Candidate City is seen on June 9  2015 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne
The logo of Almaty 2022 Candidate City is seen on June 9, 2015 at the Olympic Museum in Lausanne
Fabrice Coffrini, AFP/File

"We have hosted the Asian Winter Games and in two years we will host the Winter Universiade which will have the same number of athletes you have at an Olympics," said Kryukov.

"That will serve as a big test event for the Games themselves. The team that organises the Universiade will be the one that prepares for the Olympics. It will give us the ability to improve on the lessons learned from that.

"It is not a real issue for us. Every year we host major events, ski jumping, alpine skiing etcetera and we have teams who operate these events."

Kryukov laughed when asked whether the bid had managed to erase the negative images thrown up by the film 'Borat', the 2006 hit mockumentary by British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen.

"The reality about the Borat movie is that it is about a fantasy country but it got associated with Kazakhstan," he said.

"We would like to show we are a serious country with a stable economy and with the ability to host big events."

Kryukov said that, just over 20 years after independence (gained in 1991), winning the right to host the Games would be a significant moment.

"Yesterday (Monday) Kazakhstan signed a contract with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) to become a full member," he said.

"We worked for 19 years to be a member and to have succeeded is a great achievement.

"Should we win the hosting of the Olympic Games that too will be a great achievement."

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