SOCHI, Russia (Reuters) - Kazakhstan’s Almaty, bidding to host the 2022 winter Olympics, has no plans to emulate the Sochi Games and will be spending only a fraction of what the Russians have invested, bid officials said on Thursday.
Almaty is making another run for the winter Games after failing to make the shortlist for the 2014 Olympics which were eventually awarded to Sochi.
The Russian Black Sea resort has pumped in about $50 billion in venue construction and wider infrastructure projects, making them the most expensive Olympics.
“It will be many, many times less,” Andrey Kryukov, executive board member of the Kazakh Olympic Committee told reporters. “It will not be a big budget.”
The Kazakh city, which according to Kryukov has about two-thirds of venues already in place, was initially seen as a long shot.
Since the withdrawal of Stockholm shortly after formally announcing a bid and the refusal of traditional winter destinations Germany and Switzerland to run, however, its chances have improved.
Almaty is up against Ukraine’s Lviv, Norwegian capital Oslo, Poland’s Krakow and Beijing.
With a shortlist to be decided in five months its chances could further improve. Mass protests in Ukraine are damaging Lviv’s chances and a third successive Olympics in Asia is also unlikely, denting Beijing’s hopes.
South Korea’s Pyeongchang will host the 2018 winter Games and Tokyo will stage the 2020 summer Olympics, making Beijing an unlikely choice for 2022.
Krakow’s bid could also face an uphill struggle as it plans to hold some events in neighboring Slovakia and the International Olympic Committee is not keen to stage the event in two countries.
Norway’s Oslo is struggling to convince the local population of the Games’ benefits with a majority against staging the Olympics in the Scandinavian country according to a recent poll.
“We are going slowly,” Kryukov said. “We are going year by year, hosting different competitions.”
Almaty co-hosted the 2011 Asian winter Games with Astana and has also held Nordic combined World Cups as well as international ski jumping events.
“What are we missing? The Games,” Kryukov said.
Editing by Ed Osmond