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Kazakhstan moves closer to hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics

Kazakhstan’s commercial capital Almaty has moved a step closer to hosting the 2022 Winter Olympics after one of three finalists Oslo withdrew its bid – sparking fresh construction optimism in a city already spending $1bn on hosting the 2017 Winter Universiade student games.

The Norwegian government’s decision not to fund its capital's bid leaves only Beijing standing in the way of a 2022 Almaty Olympics. While Norway may have been put off by the gargantuan spending (over $50bn) on this year’s Sochi Olympics, winter venues are already under construction in Almaty for the Universiade, and this has put the city’s bid in a strong position. Two new ice arenas holding 3,000 and 12,000 people are being built and a feasibility study for a 5,000-capacity Universiade Village is currently underway, and hotel and amenities construction is on the up around the city.

While its existing winter sports infrastructure is a major upside to Almaty’s bid, there is still a need for more projects. A brand new Olympic Park will contain the Olympic Village, figure skating and curling arenas, a media village, and hotels for IOC officials, and the bid also envisages a sliding centre and an Almaty Convention Centre.

Overall, the venues would be split between a city and mountain cluster, the latter located 35 minutes outside of Almaty.

The cost of an Almaty games is slated at $3.7 billion, and serious private sector financing (together with public-private partnership funding) will be needed if the city is to host Central Asia’s first ever Olympics.

Should Almaty's bid come out on top, the international building sector is sure to be heavily involved in getting the city and its venues ready. The KazBuild construction exhibition, taking place in Almaty in September, two months after the winning venue is announced, offers international businesses a way into a Kazakh building market with a bright future – whether the Olympics are coming or not.

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