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Almaty is a Rightful Host of 2011 Asian Winter Games

Almaty is a Rightful Host of 2011 Asian Winter Games

Akimat (administration) of Almaty City and the Olympic Council of Asia (OCA) signed the Host City Contract on March 4, 2006 in Kuwait enabling Almaty to host 2011 Asian Winter Games.

The timeframe of the Seventh Asiad was set at January 30 – February 6, 2011.

Signing of the contract was a point of reference for concerned officials who flung themselves into the arrangements for 2011 Asian Winter Games in tandem with majority city departments and agencies.

The arrangements included a contest for symbols of Almaty Asiad; defining sport items, where best sportsmen from the region will compete; choosing sports facilities; locating future sports facilities. It is a large-scale scope of tasks related to the creation of a suitable infrastructure in the city. This embraces construction of a new terminal and runway in the International Airport of Almaty, by-pass highway and a chain of traffic interchanges. These facilities will enable a swift and comfortable transfer of sportsmen and sport fans from the airport to the Olympic village, training sites and venues of qualifying and final competitions. The arrangements provide for an upgrade of Medeo high-mounting skating rink, Shymbulak alpine ski resort, Baluan Sholak Sports Palace, Central Stadium, setup of the first stage of Almaty subway, construction of the service infrastructure, which suggests refitting the available hospitals and broadcast centers with upswing equipment. Moreover, there will be a new chain of small and big hotels, cafeterias and restaurants, as well as training centers for volunteers fluent in Asian languages and English. The list is endless, as the more facilities are refitted and constructed the more magnificent the Asian sport forum held in Almaty will be. These all will finally benefit Almaty locals.

Leaving the contract aside, it should be noted that the sporting authorities were eager to see the 6th Asian Winter Games when Mayor Zhu Yejing of Changchun, a small town by Chinese measurements with six or eight million population, bore a banner of Asian Winter Games. Almaty City Akim Imangali Tasmagambetov was expected to receive the flag of the Olympic Council of Asia at their closing.

The baton was passed on February 4, 2007 at Changchun Wuhuan Dome stadium, when Vice President of the Olympic Council of Asia Ho Jenting made an official statement thereof. It was a top news story in mass media of Almaty, Changchun, Beijing and dozens countries in Asia and worldwide. A lot of newspapers and magazines posted pictures from the ceremony and Beijing television broadcasted these video records for several days.

"From this point on we carry the flag of the Asian Olympic Committee. This means we are a rightful host of 2011 Asian Games. We have embarked on thoroughgoing preparations for the event," Tasmagambetov told a group of journalists from Kazakhstan accredited for the 6th Asian Games after the sacred Asiad Flame was gradually extinguished outside the Gymnasium and the closing ceremony was over.

"Almaty right to host the 7th Asian Winter Games first of all is indicative of the growing role of Kazakhstan in the world community as an independent country. Kazakhstan is more and more recognizable owing to vast backing by our President Nursultan Nazarbayev. I once again would like to congratulate all residents of Almaty and all people of Kazakhstan on this outstanding event," the Akim highlighted.

We in Changchun

Jilin province met the delegation from Kazakhstan numbering 200 people (included 105 athletes, plus physicians, coaches, actors, team of Almaty City presentation) with cool weather, the temperature dropped 18-20 degrees below zero. First days of the stay of our delegation were green winter. But just before the games started the weather was drastically changed adjusting the setting to match the event.

A reminder should be provided that the 6th Asian Games (January 26 – February 4) covered 10 sport items with 47 sets of gold medals. The team from Kazakhstan participated in seven of them, including Cross-country Skiing, Biathlon, Alpine Skiing, Ice Hockey, Short Track Speed Skating, Speed Skating and Curling.

What chances did we have to win gold medals in a team classification? We knew from the very outset that the Chinese party had chosen sports given their own interests [it is a general practice. – editor] avoiding ski events and long-distance speed skating, where we have sound footing. And instead they included short track speed skating, where Kazakh sportsmen have minimum chances. Therefore we expected to rank the fourth after China, Japan and South Korea. At the same time, we laid our accounts for total bronzes since we still remember triumph of the Kazakh sportsmen in Harbin Asiad, when they were competing head-to-head with the Chinese athletes for team gold. Eleven years ago it was a mere fluke, when two Chinese skaters simultaneously came in first in the short track speed skating, thus grabbing two golds. Consequently, the team from Kazakhstan gained 14 golds versus 15 of the Chinese.

This winter, we failed to recoup with the South Korean team (it scored 9 golds) or at least even up scores. First of all, the men's ice hockey team from Kazakhstan lost in the last minutes of the game, and the Japanese team won. Hundreds of Chinese fans who were encouraging the Kazakh team were disappointed along with its supporters.

Secondly, our athlete again lost a gold to a Japanese sportsman in cross-country skiing. And finally, Yelena Kolomina could win gold in racing. Only a photofinish awarded her a silver. This could happen, but has not…

Meanwhile, our women's hockey team has gladdened the supporters. They spared no efforts playing hundred-per-cent in the semi-final with the Chinese hockeyists and the final with the Japanese team.

Our hockey players lost the first goal playing with the Chinese team, and they were in minority in the third interval as the Chinese coach let the third fielder leaving the cage empty. But the reckless game of the Chinese team was not paid off. The final horn rang out when the score was 3:2 in favor of the players from Kazakhstan, virtually the Almaty team. Seventeen hours later our hockeyists played with fresh Japanese team. Two zippy goals in the first interval were a good preventer for our girls. Both fans and rivals caught sight of their fatigue in the second half of the game. The push of the Japanese attackers and incredible efforts of our goal-minder grabbed the audience. However, she lost one goal. The final score was 2:1 in our favor brining one more gold to the sportsmen from Kazakhstan.

Thus, the team from Kazakhstan has managed its minimum program ranking the fourth in the team placing with six golds, six silvers and six bronzes. Winners of the 6th Asian Winter Games are the women's hockey team, biathlete Alexander Chervyakov, skiers Oxana Yatskaya and Maxim Odnodvortsev, as well as relay-race teams of women and men.

"Certainly, the sportsmen from Kazakhstan have showed an outstanding performance, but they could make even more," Mr Tasmagambetov pointed out in his interview.

"But I am earnestly convinced that the next Asian Games due in Almaty will demonstrate all sporting might of the Kazakh athletes," he indicated.

Talking about our players in Changchun, the support team should be mentioned as well. The supporters included officials from Almaty Akimat and chief executives of Medeo high-mountain staking rink and other organizations who came to adopt experience of hosting the Asiad. They all were wearing special clothes produced by Textiline. White with turquoise fur trim warmup suits carrying 2011 Almaty emblems and Kazakhstan label struck the eye. Fans from various countries, especially China, made their way to our supporters from opposite stands to make photo. On the way back home we were joking that if we were paid at least one yuan for one picture, we would earn for one more trip to China.

The presentation of Almaty City in Changchun was a hit. A dedicated exhibit, video film, hospitable maidens in national wear and a concert of musicians have created benevolent aura. Various delegations arranged such presentations with time limit. However, nobody hurried to leave a warmly welcoming corner of Almaty in the center of Changchun showing their genuine interest to the host city of 2011 Asiad.

We in 2011

Seven is a fortunate number for Kazakhs. And we all look for team gold, somehow perplexed at our own audacity. But it is believed that wonder is a source of cognition, as indicated by Imangali Tasmagambetov. It is an outset of experience and trust in our own vigor and capabilities, and this equally applies to sporting achievements and arrangement of opening and closing ceremonies of the Asiad.

Arrangers of the regional sporting forum in Changchun have succeeded in reflecting wealth and profound of Chinese culture and history

"I think Kazakhstan and our polyethnic country also enjoy rich culture and history. Therefore we will do our best to make the opening and closing ceremonies of the Asian Games in Almaty not merely rememberable performances, but also striking, breathtaking, ingenious with a broad range of topics covered," said the Akim. He opines Almaty with the natural splendor of Zailiski Alatau, rich history and traditions will be a discovery for a lot of guests and sportsmen of 2011 Asiad.

"We will also strike everyone with our sport achievements. Our preparations for these Asian Games will be comprehensive," the Mayor of Almaty City emphasized.

2011 Asiad will offer 59 medals in 12 sport items. As previously stated, OCA demands the host city to provide for tournaments embraced by the compulsory program. These are c ross-country skiing, speed skating, alpine skiing, hockey and figure skating. The program also offers additional sports. Thus, Almaty Asiad covers c ross-country skiing, biathlon, ice hockey for men and women, bandy for men, orienteering, alpine skiing, snowboard, freestyle, ski jumping, figure skating and speed skating.

The Central Stadium of Almaty, Medeo Alpine Skating Rink, Baluan Sholak Sport Palace will be refitted by 2011. Moreover, a number of facilities will be constructed, among them are skiing and biathlon stadiums, a complex of springboards, all-purpose sports palace of ice sports, and an Olympic village.

Furthermore, the urban transport infrastructure, utilities and the service industry will be upgraded by the arrival of Asian sportsmen.

To tackle the issue, a task group has been established under a government decree to arrange and conduct the 7th Asian Winter Games in Almaty. Minister of Tourism and Sport/ Chair of the National Olympic Committee of the Republic of Kazakhstan Dosmukhambetov heads the new agency. The Directorate of 2011 Asian Games was also set up in Almaty. Led by the Director General of the National Olympic Committee of Kazakhstan it is charged to create the Almaty Steering Committee of 2011 Asian Games.

Thus, the southern capital of Kazakhstan began the countdown to the Almaty Asiad.

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Information contents and support:
Press service of Almaty city Mayor