Andrey Kryukov ©Almaty 2022

With just 10 days left to go, the Host City race for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games is shaping up to be one of the most exciting and important in recent decades. Dramatic changes that have unfolded within the Olympic Movement since the beginning of the bidding process have had major implications on the race, and look to be a major factor in determining which city emerges victorious in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.

The dramatic changes I am referring to are all related to the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) recent adoption of the critical Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms. These reforms, produced through extensive consultation with the Olympic Family and its many stakeholders, represent the IOC’s bold new vision for the Games in the 21st century and are a monumental step forward for the Olympic Movement.

Under the IOC’s new guidelines, bid cities bear less of the cost of bidding for the Games and are even rewarded for cutting costs by using existing infrastructure to host the Games in a responsible and prudent manner. The IOC Session approved these reforms in December 2014, which means that the race for 2022 Winter Games Host City is the first to fall under their purview.

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A Winter Olympics in Almaty would take place in the heart of the city ©Almaty 2022

In Almaty much has changed since the beginning of the bidding process, but the one thing that has remained consistent is our vision and concept for the Winter Games. From the get-go, Almaty 2022 designed its Games Plan to match the long-term needs of our city and region. This is real change for the Winter Games and fits perfectly with the goals of Olympic Agenda 2020.

That is what we mean by “Keeping it Real”.

Almaty is a real winter sports city surrounded by 4,000-metre high mountains with plenty of real snow flowing gently into the city itself. This will benefit the athletes by providing the ideal competitive conditions for both the 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

When I say ideal competition conditions, I mean that Almaty’s mountain venues will average between 120-150 centimetres of fresh, natural snow coverage during our proposed Games periods. We also have dozens of rivers and numerous large mountain lakes available for potential snow making without impacting local water supply.

Additionally, Almaty 2022’s Games Plan is one of the most compact and efficient plans in over 30 years.  All venues are within a 30 kilometres radius of the Olympic Village and 70 per cent of our venues are already completed and in use. Moreover, by the time of the 2017 Winter Universiade, over 80 per cent will exist, with another five years until the 2022 Winter Games.

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The Medeu Skating Oval is located 1,700 metres above sea level, meaning it should ensure several records if Almaty's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics is successful ©Almaty 2022

Almaty’s bid budgets are modest because we only have to build two new venues in order to host the 2022 Winter Games. No new mountain venues and no major transportation projects need to be developed, meaning negligible impact on the environment.

This is not only great for athletes and spectators, it also sets a model for future Green Winter Games and fulfills an important element of Agenda 2020: sustainability.

Almaty has already seen the power of Olympic Agenda 2020 in action. Thanks to our successful meetings with the Evaluation Commission, we reduced our original budget by $500 million. 

That is Olympic Agenda 2020 in action, not in theory.

For us, “Keeping it Real” means keeping Agenda 2020 real. Our vision for a sensible, affordable and sustainable Winter Games is real and perfectly suited to bring the IOC’s new Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms to life.

Almaty 2022 promises a return to a responsible Games model by adapting the Winter Games to fit our city and its long-term needs. We want to show the world that young and developing nations similar to Kazakhstan can host the Games affordably and sustainably.

On July 31 we intend to show the IOC members that their vision and our vision are one and the same. Almaty is ready to take the next step on the world stage and we can think of no better partner than the Olympic Movement.

Alan Hubbard is away