World Bulletin / News Desk
The world will find out Friday who is going to be hosting 2022 Winter Olympic Games - China's Beijing or Kazakhstan's Almaty.
The International Olympic Committee will make the announcement after a secret ballot held during the 128th IOC session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
Initially five cities expressed desire to host the 2022 Olympics, but Oslo, Munich and Stockholm withdrew their applications due to public pressure.
At first sight Beijing and Almaty's competition may seem like "David vs Goliath", although little is known about the former Soviet republic. If Almaty wins, Kazakhstan is going to be the first Central Asian republic to host Winter Olympics.
With significant oil and gas reserves, it is now the largest economy in Central Asia and keen to use this event to increase investment, development and raise its profile.
Despite being in rude health economically, officials in Almaty plan to keep events within a 30-kilometer radius, saving $500 million in transport costs between locations.
However, for IOC Beijing is a safe choice, since in 2008 China's capital has already proven its worth as a successful Summer Olympics host. Beijing's being the first city to run both Olympic games could be tempting PR for the IOC.
The only problem with Beijing is that Olympic venues are going to be 190 km northwest of the city.
With only two cities - both run by what could be considered authoritarian regimes - bidding for the prestige of hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics the question arises as to whether the games - and specifically the winter games - have lost their allure. Besides, both Kazakhstan and China have poor human rights records which may run into conflict with IOC's own new rules, which were enacted in 2014.
High costs and dubious returns have arguably turned democratic countries -- where politicians are forced to listen to their voting public -- and answerable to budget blowouts, made many nations wary of hosting the world's biggest sporting events.
Over the past two years, cities in Poland, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine have all backed away from proposals to host the Winter Olympics.
Where once the promise of a boost to tourism and better national sporting facilities would suffice, it seems many countries are heeding the lessons learned from the debt experienced by Greece from the $11 billion bill for 2004 Athens Summer Olympics.
More recently, there's the estimated $50 billion price tag for the last Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Last Mod: 31 Temmuz 2015, 13:55