By Nick Butler

Almaty's bid will boost jobs and environmental improvement if they are awarded the Games, it is hoped ©Almaty 2022As many as 50,000 new jobs will be created if Almaty is awarded the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics, officials have claimed, insisting the Games will have a positive economic impact on Kazakhstan.

Barely a fortnight ahead of an inspection visit by the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Evaluation Commission, a key staging post in the 18 month bidding process, Almaty organisers are working hard to drum up support among political and public figures.

This is currently seen as a main weakness, with a bid taking advantage predominately of pre-existing facilities and therefore requiring little in the way of expensive construction viewed as a way to alter opinion.

"According to the preliminary evaluations of the IOC, Almaty is 62 per cent ready for the Olympics," Almaty 2022 Bid Board member Andrey Kryukov told the Astana Times.

"We only need to build a complex for short track and figure skating and slopes for the skeleton and bobsled competitions.

"The remaining infrastructure will be built for the [Winter] Universiade, which will be held in Almaty in 2017."

As a consequence, officials have claimed costs will remain relatively low and, when everything is taken into consideration, will not exceed $8 billion (£5 billion/€7 billion).

Almaty 2022 will predominantly take advantage of pre-existing facilities ©Almaty 2022Almaty 2022 will predominantly take advantage of pre-existing facilities ©Almaty 2022

National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan President Temirkhan Dosmukhambetov claimed this figure will include the hosting of the Games and preparations for them, as well as the construction of remaining sports facilities and urban infrastructure.

"All of the infrastructure will remain afterwards and will be used by Almaty residents and guests of the southern capital," he added.

"No need to compare the amount that was spent on the preparation and conduct of the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games.

"There, virtually everything was erected from scratch, we already have much of what is needed for the Games."

Almaty is widely seen as the outsider behind favoured contender Beijing in what has become a two-horse race to host the Games following the withdrawal of all four European contenders - Kraków, Lviv, Oslo and Stockholm - last year.

Ahead of a final decision due to made during the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31, the next stage comes when the Evaluation Commission, chaired by Russian IOC member Alexander Zhukov, makes on-site inspections of the two cities from February 14 to 18 for Almaty and March 24 to 28 for Beijing.

Less new facilities are required for Almaty's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic than for Beijing's,it is claimed  ©Getty ImageLess new facilities are required for Almaty's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympic than for Beijing's,it is claimed  ©Getty Image

One perceived challenge for Beijing 2022 organisers to overcome concerns lingering fears over high levels of air pollution in the Chinese capital.

But environmental factors are also a worry for Almaty, with organisers insisting that improved levels of air pollution could be a main legacy of the Games following criticism of high levels.

With officials keen to meet the IOC's new demands regarding the meeting of international environmental standards - a condition in the updated Host City Contract sent to the Candidates last September - several potential remedies have already been suggested.

These involve a general transfer to more efficient energy fuels and more advanced filtering systems to protect gas supplies, as well as the use of local raw materials to construct more energy efficient electric vehicles.

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