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Decision nears on 2022 Olympic bid

27 July 2015

2022: Beijing and Almaty have embarked on a frantic final lobbying campaign for the 2022 Winter Olympics ahead of a decision this week on the winner.

High-level delegations from China and Kazakhstan are in Kuala Lumpur where the International Olympic Committee will hold a secret ballot on Friday to decide between the two rivals.

The Games are guaranteed to go to Asia for the second time in a row after 2018 in Pyeongchang, South Korea.

Almaty has been gaining ground in recent weeks against the Chinese capital which has been considered overwhelming favourite for several months.

Beijing has thrown its heavyweight lobbying power into securing the Games, highlighting its successful staging of the 2008 Summer Olympics and its deep pockets.

Its team in Kuala Lumpur includes Yao Ming, the giant former NBA star.

But the oil-rich Central Asian republic of Kazakhstan also has cash and has impressed with its promise of a "real" Olympics with all of the facilities and plenty of snow within 33km of its former capital.

China is considered a safe bet. And if it wins, Beijing will become the first city to host the Summer and Winter Olympics.

President Xi Jinping has said that holding the 2022 games "ignite the passion" for winter sports among a new generation of Chinese.

But Chongli, where the Olympic village is proposed, is more than 160km from Beijing and some venues are 200km away.

The alpine skiing venue at Yanqing will need artificial snow to put on the contest.

Almaty played on China's lack of snow with its "Keeping it Real" slogan that impressed IOC members who went on an inspection visit in June.

"There are two bids in the contest. China are favourites but they can still be beaten," said one IOC member, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We have two excellent candidates," IOC president Thomas Bach said last week on a visit to Moscow. "The choice will not be easy."

The race for the 2022 Winter Olympics has changed dramatically in the past year.

Once there were six candidates. But Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow in Poland and Lviv in Ukraine withdrew because of public fears over the cost.

Russia spent more than $US50 billion ($A68.74 billion) on the Sochi Winter Olympics in 2012 but the IOC has since passed reforms aiming to bring down the cost and make the Olympics more sustainable.

Beijing and Almaty both say their budgets will be under $US4 billion ($A5.5 billion).

The IOC's main worry about Almaty is any fallout from the collapse of the international oil price.


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