Almaty 2022: A New Direction for the Winter Games -- Op Ed

(ATR) At Almaty 2022, we call our vision "Keeping it Real."

The following op ed was provided by Almaty 2022 executive board memberMadame Zauresh Amanzholova.

Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan. It is also the nation’s former capital and remains the major commercial and cultural centre of our country. Almaty’s location, nestled at the foothills of the Tian Shan Mountain Range, also makes our city the natural home of winter sports in Kazakhstan, and indeed the surrounding central Asian region.

Almaty 2022 represents our second bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and, similar to all aspiring champions, we refuse to give up on our dream.

Vision is the driving force for each Candidate City's concepts and differentiation, and eventually, that vision also helps define each edition of the Olympic Games. Agenda 2020 finely articulates the future goals of the Olympic Movement, and Almaty 2022’s vision is based on Agenda 2020’s far-reaching recommendations.

So the real question is, how well does a Candidate City’s vision to host an Olympic Games truly align with the long-term vision of the Olympic Movement?

Almaty 2022’s vision is crucial to defining Kazakhstan as a nation going forward, who we are as a people and as a 2022 Candidate City. We hope that our visionwill be well received by the International Olympic Committee.

We call our vision "Keeping it Real."

Simply put, Almaty 2022 is determined to provide the Olympic Movement with an extraordinary new concept for the Winter Games that is sensible, affordable and sustainable.

Keeping it Real means:

• Making the 2022 Winter Games Intimate - with a plan that is easy to use and ideally suited for athletes and all members of the Olympic Family. Almaty 2022 is one of the most efficient Games Concepts in 30 years. No venue is more than a 30 km radius from the Olympic Village. Almaty is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city with 4,000-metre mountains bursting with natural snow flowing gently into the city, providing perfect geographic, climatic and cultural conditions for a memorable festival of winter sports;

• Making the 2022 Winter Games an excellent Investment - by proposing a Games Concept based on sensible expenditures and rational budgets, which are in turn based on the real needs of our city and nation;

• Making the 2022 Winter Games a Real Legacy - by hosting them for the first time in Kazakhstan, and by proposing a Games Concept fully supported by the existing national development policy, the "Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy";

• Making the 2022 Winter Games Sustainable - almost 60 percent of the needed facilities already exist, a great example for future concepts. By 2017, almost 80 percent of our venues will exist due to the 2017 Almaty Winter Universiade;

• Making the 2022 Winter Games Green - due to the minimal need for new venues or unneeded transport construction, the environmental impact will be negligible for Almaty 2022; and,

• Making the 2022 Winter Games Fun. The people of Kazakhstan represent one of the most diverse cultures on earth due to our location on The Silk Road, the crossroads of ideas for millennia. Over 100 ethnicities and 40 religious denominations live in Almaty, peacefully.

All Candidate Cities’ visions must address the needs of the aspiring Host City and nation. Almaty 2022 is no exception. We based our planning and Games Concept on the following:

• A venue concept tailored to setting the stage for its most important participants: the athletes;

• An existing, visionary strategy for wide spread economic and social reforms to develop our country;

• An unprecedented geographical setting with a natural combination of beautiful nature – both winter and summer – and urban life;

• A master plan focused on a profound legacy for sports, tourism and urban development; and,

• A young and dynamic nation that is keen to share its passion for winter sports and showcase its culture to the world. 

We will achieve this goal by matching the most important needs of the athletes and the Olympic Movement with the most appropriate resources and needs of our city and region.

This is simple, yet profound difference is another example of Keeping it Real.

Agenda 2020 stresses that the key component of every Olympic bid should be a demonstrable legacy both for the city and for sport. In fact, according to President Bach’s new vision, a tangible Olympic legacy must be the foundational principle for any city aspiring to host the Games. This means no more white elephants – either for sports venues or non-Games infrastructure.

We understand that. That is also what we mean by Keeping it Real.

Every level of our governmentis fully committed to and strongly supports Almaty 2022. The legacy of Almaty 2022 and sport, in general, is precisely linked to the long-term development of Kazakhstan through the existing "Kazakhstan 2050 Strategy." This far-reaching national development plan is focused on seven distinct objectives, and each of these is directly linked to the Almaty 2022 plan.

While it is true that Kazakhstan possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and minerals, it also has a large agricultural sector. In 2002, Kazakhstan became the first country from the former Soviet Union to receive an investment-grade credit rating.

The Heritage Foundation and the Wall Street Journal produce a yearly "Index of Economic Freedom." In the 2014 edition, Kazakhstan ranked 17th out of 42 countries in the Asian Pacific Region, and we have one of the 20 best improvement records of all countries over the 17 years of the study.

Our total GDP is almost $ 240 billion, which represents 5 percent growth over 2013, and we have a 5-year projected GDP growth rate of 4.8 percent.

In many ways, we are one of the most robust, growing economies you’ve probably never heard of. One thing is for certain; Kazakhstan is financially capable of hosting an excellent Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

In 1991, Kazakhstan woke up as an entirely new nation. Imagine the impact that reality had on our sporting infrastructure, from top to bottom, from grassroots to elite. We realized that we had to start from scratch to rebuild sport in Kazakhstan. Almaty 2022 is part of that plan.

One only needs to look at the Olympic Games’ impact on recent host countries such as Canada, China, Russia and the UK to understand why countries yearn to host the Olympic Games. The positive effects on these former host countries’ populations are incalculable.

We also understand that sport improves lives at every level of society. That is why we hosted the Asian Winter Games in 2011, why we are hosting the Winter Universiade in 2017, and it is why we are bidding again, for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Our Bid’s vision also reinforces the true potential of an Olympic legacy – using it where it is needed most. As a new nation, Kazakhstan needs the power of the Winter Games to serve as a continuing catalyst for progress. Moreover, given our location sitting at the heart of Central Asia, the potential of an Almaty 2022 Olympic legacy becomes even more powerful and enduring for millions of people.

The culture of Kazakhstan is a mosaic that not only reflects thousands of years of human interaction, but thousands of years of integrating different ideas and ways of life. This diversity is the source of our strength and a true example of Olympism at its core.

This is the new face of Kazakhstan that we want to share with the world, for the first time as an Olympic Host City.

I believe Almaty 2022 not only presents a fresh, new perspective on the Winter Games, but also offers the world the best choice for the 2022 Winter Games.

We have one of the most efficient and affordable Games Concepts in 30 years, we have the total commitment of all levels of government, we have the perfect winter sports climate, we have an ideally sized city situated next to majestic mountains laden with fresh, natural snow and we have a tolerant, welcoming and diverse population, experienced in hosting winter sports events and eager to showcase their new nation to the world.

We look forward to seeing all of you in Almaty in 2022.

Keeping it Intimate

Keeping it Sustainable

Keeping it Green

Keeping it Fun

Keeping it Real

Content provided by Almaty Vice Mayor and Almaty 2022 executive board member Madame Zauresh Amanzholova

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