(ATR) The Kazakh Winter Olympic bid attempted to dispel financial challenges identified by IOC inspectors, revealing a $75 billion wealth fund to cover risks.
Richard Peterkin, IOC member from St Lucia, tells Around the Rings that Almaty leaders had addressed the risks linked to the bid "right up front", reinforcing the government’s financial guarantees.
The IOC Evaluation Commission report published last week pointed to the challenges of financing some venue costs, marketing and the operational budget.
Kazakhstan prime minister Karim Massimov, making his debut for the bid, spoke in good English in the 45-minute presentation to IOC members, which was followed by a 45-minute Q&A.
But he didn’t show in the mixed zone to speak to media, disappearing out of another exit. However, bid vice-chairman Andre Kryukov and mayor Akhmetzhan Yessimov spoke to press.
Despite concerns about Kazakhstan’s poor human rights record, there were no questions on the issue in the Q&A.
A range of questions came about different aspects of the Almaty bid, according to IOC members canvassed by ATR.They included queries about accommodations, legacy, the country’s sports development plan, cultural program, air quality and athlete engagement.
IOC Members React
Richard Peterkin said Massimov made his presence felt, intervening to answer a number of questions suggesting the PM was "trying to show support and solidarity to make an impression of how important it [the Olympics] is for them".
Peterkin told ATR he was impressed with the bid presentation, saying the compact Games concept "is a huge strength for them".
"If they can get it right, they have what it takes," he said.
Gerhard Heiberg told ATR Almaty "made a very good impression".
"I think they have a good concept. They presented it well and answered the questions well," he said.
But the former Lillehammer 1994 Olympic chief, one of the most experienced winter sports officials on the IOC, said he was surprised they needed three Olympic Village.
Angela Ruggiero, a vastly experienced Winter Olympian, noted the compact nature of the bid and that it was "aligned with Agenda 2020".
She said it was "a good first foot forward" for Almaty, ahead of the July 31 host city vote at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur.
SergeyBubka said Almaty "did a good job", remarking on Massimov’s clear communications and interaction with delegates.
Camiel Eurlings, a newcomer to the Candidate Cities Briefing format after joining the IOC in 2013, described Almaty’s pitch as a "very open discussion, very frank".
Juan Antonio Samaranch said it was the first opportunity IOC members had to learn about the bids. "They have a very good concept," he said.
Almaty 2022 Reacts
Mayor Yessimov spoke to international media through a translator.
Commenting on the questions posed by IOC members, he said: "The discussion was wide, but the main focus of the IOC was on Agenda 2020, on infrastructure, the readiness of the venues and the budget of our project and how we are planning to reduce it.
"We feel absolutely confident that this event here was very successful for ourselves."
Bid vice chairman Kryukov said: "All questions after the presentation were mostly related to sport, Olympism and the athletes, the rest we delivered fully during the presentation.
"We are very optimistic we convinced them of everything."
Asked what a winning the bid would mean for the country, Kryukov emphasized the impact of the country’s hosting of the Asian Winter Games in 2011 and Universiade in 2017.
"We are not jumping to the future, we go consistently toward the Games. We go step-by-step. This is now the highest priority for our government."
Sochi 2014 Olympic figure skating medalist Denis Tan fielded a key IOC question on what the athlete experience in Almaty would be like.
"We have a significant history of hosting winter sports events and I can guarantee athletes in Almaty will be in good hands," Tan told media.
"The country wants the Olympic Games so badly and I’m sure the Games in Almaty would be tremendous."
Reported from Lausanne by Mark Bisson and Brian Pinelli
20 Years at #1: Your best source of news about the Olympics is AroundTheRings.com, for subscribers only.