Almaty 2022 were the first city to present at today's Candidate City Briefing ©Twitter

A pledge to utilise a $75 billion (£49 billion/€67 billion) sovereign wealth fund formed a strong part of Almaty 2022's message to the International Olympic Committee here (IOC) at today's Candidate City Briefing, with Kazakh Prime Minister Karim Massimov playing a starring role.

The former Kazakh capital was the first city to present to the membership today, with Beijing, their only rival in a two-horse race, following with a similar 45 minutes of speeches by a group of eight speakers followed by 45 minutes of questions and answers.

Almaty, whose bid is focused around a compact and traditionally-wintry venue concept, is perceived as being more dependent on political and economic circumstances to pull off its bid than its Chinese rival, with their lack of experience in organising previous Games seen as a potential stumbling block.

This was outlined in the IOC Evaluation Commission report published last month, which identified how the Bid Committee have not provided "any guarantee from individual private hotel owners with regard to room availability or price".

Although their presentation was thought to be general and light on technical details, their financial commitment provided through wealth fund Samruk-Kazyna made a good impression, and helped alleviate other concerns.

This message was reinforced by the presence of bid leader and Prime Minister Massimov, who, in a performance widely praised by IOC members, reportedly claimed that "as Tokyo 2020 said in their bidding process, cash is 'in the bank'" for the Games.

There were questions about the further hotels, but I think the fact they've got a 75 billion dollar fund sitting there takes all the risk out of it," IOC vice-president John Coates told insidethegames.

"Certainly, there's a desire and a will from the Prime Minister.

"It's a resource strong country.

"They've been addressing the falling oil prices before it happened, putting funds aside, I think it was a very good presentation."

Andrey Kruyukov, Almaty 2022 vice-chairman, addressing the IOC during the presentation ©Almaty 2022
Andrey Kruyukov, Almaty 2022 vice-chairman, addressing the IOC during the presentation ©Almaty 2022

An Almaty official confirmed that 60 per cent of the required hotels are already in place, with the others to be built from scratch, and that there are "no worries" the required number would be built in time, should the city be awarded the Games at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31. 

Elsewhere, IOC members praised the general bid concept, with St Lucia's Richard Peterkin adding that, if they "can get all the other aspects, the planning, the organisation, the risks and so on, they have what it takes". 

United States IOC Athletes Commission member and ice hockey player Angela Ruggiero praised how the bid was "closely aligned with Agenda 2020", with the athletes seemingly uppermost in their plans.

Bid officials afterwards reiterated these financial and political pledges, insisting they had gone a long way towards alleviated concerns surrounding the bid.

Following the second presentation, there will be a meeting of the IOC Evaluation Commission with the members and representatives from International Federations, before further follow up conversations between voting members and bid officials tomorrow morning.

As well as FIFA President Sepp Blatter, whose absence has been well publicised, others missing include European Olympic Committees President Patrick Hickey, who was present for the IOC Executive Board meeting over the last two days, but has now departed for Baku ahead of this month's European Games.

Interestingly, both IOC Athletes' Commission members who were elected to represent winter sports following last year's Games in Sochi - Norway's Ole Einar Bjørndalen and Canada's Hayley WIckenheiser - were absent, with Bjørndalen also having missed last December's IOC Session in Monte Carlo.

Prince Albert of Monaco, the Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani, Britain's Princess Anne and Grand Duc Henri of Luxembourg were also absent.

The other eight missing were Slovakia's Danka Bartekova, United States' James Easton, Italy's Franco Carraro, Belgium's Pierre-Olivier Beckers-Vieujant, Egypt's Mounir Sabet, Burundi's Lydia Nsekera, Sweden's Stefan Holm and South Korea's Lee Kee-hun.

But the presence of so many members, and particularly those from countries not traditionally associated with the Winter Games, was a pleasing sign of intent on a bid process which, since the withdrawal of European contenders Stockholm, Krakow, Lviv and Oslo, has largely failed to capture the public imagination.

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