Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has spoken out in support of Almaty's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Parlaympics during a visit to the region ©President of Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev has finally given a message of support for Almaty's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics following a visit to the former capital city, while bid leaders have sought to outline the cost effective and responsible nature of the bid.

Nazarbayev, the veteran who has led the country since independence was declared from the Soviet Union in 1991, was visiting the city ahead of a Presidential Election on Sunday (April 26), where he is expected to win a fifth term in office. 

"The perspectives of the city are even more captivating," the 74-year-old, born in nearby Chemolgan but who moved the capital city from Almaty to nearby Astana in 1997, said during his visit.

"The [Winter] World Students Universiade will take place here [in 2017] and if we win the bid, then we will host the Winter Olympic Games in 2022, if we are lucky.

"We are trying to make Almaty a centre of tourism.

"There is no such city located at the foot of high mountains with snow-capped peaks and cool fresh air.

"I am not just saying it because I’m from Almaty, but probably all Kazakhs see how wonderful it is. 

"Almaty provides for 20 per cent of the economy of the country, this city is also for students where young people can obtain education."

This follows a period of concern over a perceived lack of clear support from the President, with his last public reference to the bid in December having included an unlikely suggestion for events to be shared between Almaty and Astana. 

This contrasts with the approach of Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping, who has delivered several messages of wholehearted support for the bid of Beijing, Almaty's only surviving rival in a two-horse race.

While stopping short of an unequivocal message, Nazarbayev's words are a reassurance as bid officials strive to convince the IOC that their campaign is a dependable and reliable choice, particularly given the economic downturn recently seen due to plummeting oil prices in Kazakhstan, something that could dampen Government enthusiasm further for an Olympic bid.

High levels of snow in March and April has been emphasised by Almaty 2022 ©ITG
High levels of snow in March and April has been emphasised by Almaty 2022 ©ITG

But while political support remains a relative weakness for Almaty in comparison with Beijing, an asset of the Kazakh bid is its compactness and affordability, to the extent that it appears a strong fit with the International Olympic Committee's Agenda 2020 reform process, where sustainability and compactness are two key concepts. 

Speaking here today during the SportAccord Convention, Almaty 2022 vice-chairman Andrey Kryukov revealed to insidethegames how they are keen to include all spending associated with their bid in either their operational or wider infrastructural budgets. 

This includes the renovation of roads to ease access to mountain venues, the laying of artificial snow, if required, and even the planting of new trees to supplement ones removed in order to develop new venues, he revealed.

This contrasts heavily with the ambiguity still surrounding the wider spending of Beijing, with the cost for the high speed railway linking Beijing and the mountain venues cluster in Zhangjakou still unknown, because it is, officials claim, a Government controlled spending project which was planned anyway and is unrelated to the bid.

Kryukov also claimed Almaty's technical concept is the core strength of the Kazakh effort, highlighting the fact that, as late as last week, high levels of snowfall were still seen in the various resorts around the city. 

With no official bid presentations taking place here, the next challenge for both bidders comes at the IOC Candidate City briefing in Lausanne on June 9 and 10, before a final decision is due to be made at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31. 

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