The city of Almaty, Kazakhstan, the homeland of the mythical Sasha Baron Cohen figure Borat, has become the first to put itself forward as a candidate city to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.
Almaty, translated literally as “father of apples”, is reputed to be the ancestral home of the modern apple. The city is located in the foothills of the Trans-Ili- Alatau mountains in the south East corner of Kazakhstan near the border with Kyrgyzstan and only several hundred miles from the Chinese border and historically was a part of the Great Silk road linking the west with Asia. In the post-Soviet period, Kazakhstan has become the major developed economy – after Russia- of the former Soviet Republics primarily due to its rich oil and gas reserves. Characterised by a relatively mild climate with warm summers and quite cold winters, the Chimbulak ski and sorts facilities just a short drive up the mountain rom Almaty centre were a major winter sports training ground for the Soviet team. In particular , the massive Medeo skating rink situated at 1691 metres above sea level is the highest ice rink in the world and one of the largest, comprising 10.5 thousand square metres of ice. Constructed in 1950, it uses a sophisticated freezing system and served as a frequent high altitude training centre for Soviet skaters. Further up the mountain, the Chimbulak ski resort has been undergoing major renovations in recent years and would serve as the primary downhill and cross country ski venues.
This is Almaty’s 2nd bid for the games. It bid for the 2014 Games, but was eliminated without making the short list.