| LAUSANNE Switzerland
LAUSANNE Switzerland Oslo, Almaty and Beijing were confirmed as the official candidates to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games on Monday even though an International Olympic Committee (IOC) report found several weaknesses in the Kazakh city's bid.
Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv had also submitted bids to the IOC but all three later withdrew.
"The IOC Executive board has selected the cities of Oslo, Almaty and Beijing as candidate cities for the Olympic Winter Games 2022," IOC President Thomas Bach told a news conference. The three candidates were confirmed on the strength of an IOC report into their ability to host the games, which was released to coincide with the announcement on Monday.
The report assessed each city on 15 criteria, including accommodation, venues, doping control, safety and transport.
Oslo scored strongly except on public support for the games - a poll by the IOC found 36 percent support for the Games in the Norwegian capital Oslo and surrounding areas but 50 percent against.
Almaty was weak in many respects - its concept for the Olympic Village, media centre plans, "very limited" experience in holding big winter sports events, its policing, telecoms and internet policies and the environmental impact of the Games, as well as the budget.
"Given the size of the economy and its reliance on oil, there may be challenges in supporting the significant investments in competition and non-competition venues necessary for the Games, unless there is extraordinary government support and the economy is strong," the report said.
Beijing's bid scored weakest on environmental impact and for its venues while its plans hinged on building a high-speed railway. It scored highly, however, on government and public support.
The report also considered the five-year averages of a range of air quality data provided by the three cities. Beijing and Almaty both showed air quality that was poorer than World Health Organisation standards in at least one category.
"The IOC is very happy to see three very different approaches with regard to the organisation of the games. This gives the IOC a choice between three diverse bids, with different legacy plans, with different approaches, with different budgets," Bach said.
(Reporting by Marina Depetris, writing by Tom Miles; editing by Amlan Chakraborty)