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  1. I don't believe I ever used the term 'racist' (in fact, I know I wouldn't, because it's a ridiculous term - racism is embedded in anti-ethnic sentiments that come out of British anthropology, nothing more). Asia, having over 66% of the world's population should have hosted at least, say, 40% of games by now - but they've had, what, 3 total? The IOC has long been Euro-centric which was fine until decolonization, but it the games are to survive as an institution with world-renown then they better start recognizing most of Asia, all of Latin America and all of Sub-Saharan Africa as part of the world. You may think Oslo will win, perhaps it can, but the recent developments in domestic politics suggest otherwise (and anyone trained in political science would agree with me). Oslo is out. It's down to Krakow, Beijing and Almaty. What bother's me is the xenophobia I see here - the idea that if it isn't European, it is evil and must be resisted. Krakow would be nice, I admit, but the bid has too many issues this time around. Beijing and Almaty are the only two bidding cities with the capacity to pull off the games - Beijing does NOT want it (and I'd hope any expert in Chinese politics here would chime in at this point, because to those of us who do study China it is absurd to think that they want the 2022 Olympics). Almaty and Krakow are it. The IOC could choose Poland and deal with issues it doesn't want to deal with (namely a politically/economically unstable state and a games that would take place in two states) OR they can choose Almaty (a gorgeous city in a state never hosting before, but in a city that is IDEAL for the winter games). Almaty has the most compact, realistic, easily-achieved games in recent history; they are a winter-nation and they are becoming a major world power (geopolitically). Honestly, the IOC would be stupid NOT to give the games to Almaty (and anyone who thinks that the IOC is apolitical should just stop posting). Almaty has this; perhaps not ideal, but highly capable, part of the desire to bring attention to the fact that Kazakhstan is about to replace Saudi Arabia as the world's greatest energy source, yet, regardless, very capable of hosting a great games for relatively low cost. The only racism... or more accurately, ethno-cultural centrism, I see is from those supporting typical European venues (Europe should NOT be allowed to host for at least 3 or 4 more cycles). Almaty is next to Oslo in capability. Period.
  2. I remain totally incredulous at either the (a) rampant pro-western and generally xenophobic reactions here; ( the complete ignorance of politics (esp. geopolitical) concerns; © the committment to the Olympic cause and (d) the inability to grasp that other parts of the world aside from Europe and the Anglophone states actually deserve to hold the games from time to time. Africa has never even hosted, though that is not a concern here. Asia has more than 60% of the world's population, but has hosted far fewer times than Europe/US. Asia, as an idea, is very different from Asia as a geographical construct. Asia PROPER includes all of the Middle Ease, the Caucasus, Central Asia, South Asia, SEAsia, East Asia, NEast Asia... a region so diverse that it is literally more diverse than the rest of the world combined. Thus, arguments against '3 Asian Games' are, at best, geographically ignorant and, at worst, racist and xenophobic. China won't, nor does it intend to, win the 2022 games - this is a 'dry run' to prep China for much more serious future bids. Oslo isn't going to make it; the gov't itself is ready to shut it down. If that happens, Krakow is the last 'traditional' city in waiting but (a) the Polish are less gung-ho about the Olympics than imagined; ( the IOC doesn't prohibit, but certainly counts against, multi-state bids and © Poland is still recovering from 2008 with strong, political strings attached due to being an EU member. With Oslo basically over, Stockholm long-over and Lviv seeking to hold the first games in a war zone... Beijing and Almaty are our finalists. I've already said - and strongly believe - China has no intention of winning (I'd go so far as to say they'd be upset). Leaving... Almaty. Why the hate? Almaty has the cheapest bid, it is the most prepared, it is a GORGEOUS locale, it is borderline-developed, it has the most consolidated Olympics in many years, it... well, honestly, if I didn't know about our planet's politics I'd say Almaty was the obvious choice. Of course, there is fear that this will help legitimize Nazarbayev's authoritarianism and perhaps it will but that has never been an IOC concern. Kazakhstan has been the single most successful former-SSR (INCLUDING Russia) in terms of economics; it is ready to host, fully capable and willing. Is it out of the way? Define 'out of the way' - the US is more distant for people from Asia (60% of the world's population) than other potential hosts. In fact, Almaty is highly centralized so it will be easiest, on average, for people to make it there than anywhere else. The only anti-Almaty sentiment I've seen here is based in a disgusting European-xenophobia. Almaty will win.
  3. I agree in regards to the problems with the IOC - the membership determinants are awful, unfair, unrepresentative and help politicize what is already the most political sporting event in the world. But the fact remains that the make-up of the 115 IOC voters is a mishmash of national identities, with individuals chosen by varying metrics - some are simply former medal winners or notable figures within sport - and particularly Olympic - history, but most are politicians of several different types -- some due to their nobility (princes and princesses from Europe's Constitutional Monarchies, sheikhs from Middle Eastern states, etc); some are sport-politicians (i.e. have partisan affiliations and are appointed or elected to a governmental office dealing with sports - whether as part/head of an agency or entire ministry or simply as an individual 'goodwill ambassador' type of position), some are simply politicians without qualification. The turnover is rather high, with 27 new members - and therefore losses of 27 different members - appointed over the past 4 years. Yet, some serve on the IOC for decades (the longest serving member is a Russian who has been on the IOC since 1971). In terms of nationality, the roughly 40% of members appointed before the late '90s are interesting, and quite different from the nationalities of those appointed since 2001. For these longer-serving IOC members, European nationalities are over-represented (both relative to later appointments and relative to their percentage of the population). Traditional powers of the 1970s - 1990s are represented: The US and Russia each have 4 members (some are newly appointed but the equal number of voters isn't accidental. Thailand has a vote, granted in 1990 at a time when the country was getting ready to begin a more democratic era and one of 9 developing countries never to have been colonized. Greece has a vote, of course. A smattering of the remnants of the European Aristocracy is represented by princes and princesses whose sole power these days is to vote on the IOC. Both Taiwan and Puerto Rico have had the same representative since the late '80's/1990. Many of the other longer-serving members come from traditional European powers (and not just sport powers). Pakistan, India, South Africa, Mexico all have someone representing their nationality - two nuclear powers, the most powerful state in Africa (and, interestingly, the only country known to have developed nuclear weapons, successfully tested them then give them up) and the strongest state between the US and South America (and former host country). Looking at more recent additions, the number of Europeans has gone down some as a percentage, but the developed countries as a whole are well represented. Several Arab states have at least one vote, including sheikhs from Kuwait and Qatar and a Princess from Saudi Arabia. Recently, appointees have increasingly come from African countries such as Djibouti, Burundi, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Gambia, Namibia, Kenya, Cote d'Ivoire. Brazil has a presence, and Latin America has a few nationalities represented with voters from Colombia, Panama, Argentina. The Carribbean has some votes too - Saint Lucia and Arbua, for example. China has several votes and Southeast Asia has become very well represented with voters from Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Philippines (and Thailand as mentioned). India is represented, of course, as is Pakistan and - a bit more surprisingly - North Korea. Kazakhstan, too. But it's clear that many of the new members are from a more diverse set of countries and are serving in semi-official or official capacities on behalf of their country. It boils down to the decisions of these individuals; a group of individuals that is increasingly global in composition (I can understand questions about how many votes Africa should have in regards to the Winter Olympics, but I understand why the votes are distributed in the fashion they are). Since 2001 (?) the IOC has picked China, South Korea and Japan - all three have IOC members and SE Asian and India voters likely contributed to these choices. Russia received the games in a ridiculous location. Rio also picked up the games, despite South and Central America being what appears to be the most underrepresented set of countries. And yes, North America and Europe each got the Games once. But what the trend in appointtees to the IOC tells me is that an increasing number of people from former colonies and/or from Asia are now voting and the games have been given to Asian and developing countries. It rotates, but they seem interested in sending the games to places that are not Europe (or US/Canada/Australia). This same phenomena has been seen in voting patterns in other international institutions so there is reason to believe that their is a correlation, it does influence the outcome and the current makeup of the IOC has changed by 27 votes in 4 years with developing countries in Africa and Asia receiving many of these votes. Putin wanted these Olympics, in part, to show that Russia was still a power - that it was separate from the West and capable of managing its own affairs, that it had real influence. He has used the games to help push his domestic and international agendas. While we decry this in the west, Putin remains a popular figure throughout Russia and in many parts of the world. Many African states and Middle Eastern states have strong ties with Russia and now we have Sochi. Many have strong ties to China - and China became the 1st developing country to host (following the end of the Cold War at least). The choice of these countries isn't accidental - there isn't a magical 'right' country. The choice of host city is political. The IOC members do look seriously at the bids, I'm sure. But by the time these cities are short-listed it is because they are believed to be capable of hosting safe and entertaining games so the decision between them rides on other concerns. Anyways, I rant too long. I see a trend, I believe the trend has many implications and I believe the institutions through which those trends will be filtered can help draw tentative conclusions regarding what could happen and what is likely to happen. I'm not convinced - at all - that Almaty will win. I am convinced that Almaty will be a much stronger contender than most in western countries believe at the moment.
  4. Forgot to address you criticism regarding my considering Beijing and Lviv to be out of the running. Lviv is obvious, as you acknowledge. Beijing, as I see it, is applying to because China expects to win (in fact, if China really wanted to win 2022 it's unlikely Beijing would have been their choice). As a rising superpower, China is regularly showing its face, exercising its influence, in virtually all international bodies and forums. By bidding for a winter olympics they are forcing the world to acknowledge their capacity to host winter and summer games. They keep attention on themselves and can use this as a springboard for a more serious bid later on. Beijing hosted the games in 2008 - I doubt that the same city will be given the games twice in 14 years. The Chinese government is well aware of this - and their well aware that the Winter Games prior to 2022 are in Pyeongchang, South Korea which is essentially a neighbor of China's while the summer games of 2020 are in Japan, which is also essentially China's neighbor. People get upset about the same continent getting two games in a row - if Beijing wins 2022 then not only will Asia have had 3 games in a row (which I don't see as an issue - Asia is enormous and holds more than half of the planet's population; different regions of Asia can and should be treated as 'continents' in the sense that the Games shouldn't be in the same region repeatedly). China, Korea and Japan are East Asia - they share similar cultural heritages and traditions (yes, I'm aware of the enormous differences between them, but those differences are not significant relative to the difference between the countries of East Asia and, say, South Asia, or Central Asia, or the Middle East, etc.). China is not going to have its capital be the first city to host both the Winter and Summer games, the Chinese capital is not going to receive the games twice in 14 years. And despite the success of the 2008 Olympics, there were nasty controversies, Beijing has seen pollution rates increase substantially since then, etc. China simply isn't a potential choice though they'll be short-listed. Unless the games are going to go South Korea -> Japan -> China and the IOC members really want Beijing to be the first host of both games it's hard to see Beijing succeeding. I doubt they have any intention of succeeding, any belief they can. They want to keep their name in the running generally, to make a more serious bid later more likely to succeed. They also could very well want to use this for political purposes - China will get votes. If it loses in the first round (as I believe it will) then what happens to Beijing supporters? Are they more likely to switch to Oslo, Krakow? Or will most go to Almaty, another Asian (but not East Asian) city where China has enormous political interests and which is in a developing country that would, at that point, be the only non-European choice - if you look at who is on the IOC, look at the countries they represent and it should be clear that many are going to have an interest, a preference, to vote for the non-European candidate. If I am correct - and again, I acknowledge that this isn't an exact science, that the evidence can be interpreted and analyzed in many ways, and that nothing is guaranteed - but if I right and China goes down in round one you end up with 2 European countries and 1 non-European country; 2 developed countries, 1 developing; 2 Western countries, 1 non-Western; 2 countries which are not significant geopolitical actors - particularly for the IOC members from countries outside of Europe - and 1 that is set to become one of the great energy superpowers. Such a situation would benefit Almaty (if Beijing does survive round 1, then all bets are off). If Beijing drops first, those looking for the games to be in Europe will have two choices while those (and this of course is a simplification of interests) looking for a country outside of Europe to host will have one choice. Thus, to the extent that there is a 'pro-Europe' bloc the votes coming from it are likely to be split between Oslo and Krakow and lead to one of them (Krakow, more likely) being knocked out of the running.
  5. A secret ballot doesn't negate political influences and voting blocs, not even an argument with having. IOC members come from countries all over the world and most enjoy positions of power within their governments, or at least influence within their societies. These members, as politicians, entrepreneus, etc. have an interest in who does and does not receive the games and the fact that their ballots are secret doesn't mean that those interests suddenly change. While there are certainly cases in which a particular voter may vote for a particular host due to reasons unrelated to the position likely to be most popular within their government, many will. Furthermore, you keep talking about the IOC as if it was a monolithic, unitary actor with a singular interest which is more than a bit problematic. It is the interests of its voting members in the aggregate that determine outcome. If Voter X supports Krakow in round 1 and Krakow loses in round 1, you're argument would suggest we know nothing about how Voter X will vote in round 2 - that one vote isn't tied to the next. However, I'd argue Voter X would likely vote for Oslo in round 2. Now, to make this more clear - and show that there is definitely a connection between votes and voter preference - take a look at the number of votes given to each candidate in a multi-round vote for a host city - look at 2020, 2018, 2016 - doesn't matter. Now, if the argument that there are not voting blocs or shared preferences or linkages between the strength of one's preference for one potential host and another was correct, then after one country loses in the first round we'd expect the votes that did go to the losing country would be randomly - essentially equally - distributed across the remaining contenders. However, that isn't what we see. Take, for example, the votes for 2016. The United States lost in the first round, receiving only 18 votes. In the second round of voting Japan lost 2 votes and Spain gained 1 vote. Brazil gained 20 votes. Thus, it appears that virtually everyone who had voted for the US voted for Brazil when the US lost. Japan was knocked out of the running after round 2, leaving Brazil and Spain. Japan had received 20 votes in the second round - Brazil picked up 20 votes in the final round. Clearly, votes were not random, there are strong correlations between support for a particular bid and the preference-ordering you hold regarding competing bids. You can walk through this same logic with any recent bid. You can also read up on the biographies of IOC members and find out just how politically-minded some of these individuals are. 27 of the 115 voters joined the IOC in 2010 or later. Indeed, there is a rather high turnover rate for voting IOC members. Thus, the decisions made by the IOC members at a given time is not a strong indicator of how the IOC will vote at a future date - the degree to which membership on the IOC changes between Vote A and Vote B is important as it tells us that X% of voters are different - with different motivations, interests, political alliances, etc - between the two choices. The IOC that completely Vote A is not the same IOC that did Vote B.
  6. That's fair, World Bank classifications do place Kazakhstan as an Upper-Middle Income country while Poland and Norway are indeed both Upper-Income. However, Norway is 'much more upper-income' than Poland. The gdp per capita (PPP) b/w Poland and Kazakhstan is about 5000 USD; between Norway and Poland is about 35000 USD. In other words, the GDP per Capita (PPP) of Norway is more than the GDP per capita PPP of Poland and Kazakhstan combined. Kazakhstan is close to being classified as an Upper-Income country (at the very low end). I suppose it would have made more sense for me to say an Extremely Rich European Democracy that is not in the EU; a much less wealthy - but still well-off - European democracy in the EU and a less wealthy - but still well-off - Central Asian Autocracy with more natural resources than they know what to do with.
  7. Never said it was a clash of civilization and I'm not sure why you feel the need to inform me I'm not Huntington - I'm pretty sure that's obvious seeing as he's been dead for 6 years. No need to try and be insulting. As for IOC voting, I simply disagree. If you look at the list of IOC voting members you'll see that not only are a majority now from developing/non-European countries. You'll also notice that many of them are politicians who hold positions of power in the country they are from. In such cases, voting is inherently political - IOC members are not IOC members alone, they are also representatives of their countries and - in most cases - the governments of their countries. While this varies from individual to individual, most are political office holders whose position in their home-state will have tremendous influence on their votes. Given that many of the cries for more inclusive games and for hosting the games outside of Europe are coming from athletes and political leaders in the developing world, not much of a stretch to see many of these people voting in ways that generally follow the interest of their state.
  8. Without arguing about semantics regarding affirmative action, I will say that I am very much in favor of the Olympics continuing to become more inclusive. They are the largest international sporting event, the largest global gathering of people for 'friendly competition' and they should be treated as such. They should not be games run by and given to rich, developed countries and no others. As more countries and cities grow economically - and the developing world is growing at a speed far greater than the developed world which is a trend that won't stop for a very long time - more cities will become legitimately viable hosts. And don't rely on straw men to justify your disagreement. The argument I made was that, so long as there are viable cities and countries which want to host the games and have the capacity to do so, I don't understand why countries - and especially cities - that have already hosted the games should receive them again. Now, a permanent ban - a one-time host policy - is probably too far. But I could see a rule that, say, host cities can't bid again until 50 years after they've hosted while host countries can't bid again for 25 or 30 years. The fact is that the games continually go to a small number of rich, mostly Western, mostly European countries despite the fact that half the world's population is in Asia and about 90% of the world's population lives in the developing, non-Western World. Finally, and here is where I take the most issue with what you said, you suggest that only a handful of cities and countries can host the games. You also seem to assume - and I could be wrong - that this isn't changing anytime soon, that the same cities and countries that were viable two decades ago will be the same that are viable two decades from now with few additions to the roster. The next choice for a host city will be made next year and will determine the 2022 Winter Host. Three countries that have never hosted are among the 5 bidding. All three were viable options until Ukrainian politics boiled over into mass protests that threaten the very existence of the country's current regime. Poland and Kazakhstan are both fully capable of hosting and both are countries that have never held the games (throw in Slovakia, too, as it is part of the Krakow bid and also is a country capable of hosting the games but which has yet to do so). Thus, even with the Winter Games - for which there are far fewer viable host cities - there are many cities bidding that - if chosen - would become the first city in their country to host. When it comes to the Summer Games, the number of cities capable of hosting is much higher and the list won't remain static. Many cities in developing countries are growing rapidly and well - they may not be prepared to host the games if awarded them today and given 7 years to put them together, but the next open bid is for the 2024 Olympics - cities bidding for those games have 10 years to get ready. Since hosts are chosen 7 years before they actually host, one has to consider how ready a city is likely to be when bids are being made and when the host for a particular bid would actually hold the games. If we want to predict, say, the next 3 unannounced Summer Hosts we're looking at 2024, 2028 and 2032 - the last of which is almost 20 years from now. At the rate countries and cities are growing these days, it's silly to assume that cities currently seen as unviable will remain so that long. So, below is just a quick list of cities I believe are currently capable of making a serious bid and which are in countries that have never hosted the games. Below that list is a longer list of cities that I believe would be able to host the Olympics by 2032/2036 (so, in roughly 2 decades) from countries that've never hosted. For arguments sake, I'm just identifying 1 potential host city per country. Likely could host now & from countries never to have hosted the Olympics: Singapore Shanghai, China Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia Taipei, Taiwan (although this is unlikely given Taiwanese-Chinese relations) Buenos Aires, Argentina Istanbul, Turkey, Prague, Czech Republic Copenhagen, Denmark Dublin, Ireland Montevideo, Uruguay Lisbon, Portugal Zagreb, Croatia Auckland, New Zealand Bucharest, Romania Almaty, Kazakhstan Krakow, Poland Doha, Qatar Dubai, UAE Casablanca, Morocco Lima, Peru Budapest, Hungary Riga, Latvia Belgrade, Serbia Ljubljana, Slovenia Likely could host by 2040: Bangkok, Thailand Santiago, Chile San Jose, Costa Rica Panama City, Panama Jakarta, Indonesia Mumbai, India Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam Durban, South Africa Tangier, Morocco Kiev, Ukraine Libreville, Gabon Gaborone, Botswana Tunis, Tunisia Manila, Philippines Guatemala City, Guatemala Guayaquil, Ecuador Baku, Azerbaijan Colombo, Sri Lanka Muscat, Oman Accra, Ghana San Salvador, El Salvador Now, not all of those cities may sound appealing to you - but I assure you that the citizens of those cities and countries would be very happy to receive the games and all of these cities have rich cultures, histories, landmarks and other notable features making them particularly interesting world destinations. These cities are all well integrated into the global economy and most have extensive transportation and communication infrastructure, with many having decent sports complexes. Moreover, the cities/countries on list 1 are stable enough and have the funds and rule-of-law to implement the games while those on list 2 could possibly pull it off today, but are more likely to be considered good candidates in a decade or two after. Should we really let the US have their 8th Olympics when none of these countries have ever hosted? Should Canada host for their 4th time? France for its 5th time? Japan will host it's 4th games in 2020. Maybe Italy deserves its 4th? Seriously?
  9. I don't know why you'd think that the IOC will 'always have more' European members than members from other continents and that more European athletes will alway always been invited than those from other continents - even for the Winter Games. In fact, I find those statements to be so clearly misguided as to be humorous! Of the 7 Games between 2008 and 2020, only 2 games have been/will be hosted in 'Western' countries (Vancouver '10 and London '12). Only one is part of 'traditional Europe' - though Sochi is also in Europe, Russian Europe is often treated as not part of Europe proper. And 3 of the 7 game have been/will be hosted in developing countries (China, Russia and Brazil) when no developing country hosted the game before 2008. There is a clear trend: the IOC is giving the games to non-European, non-Western cities increasingly often and developing countries are now legitimately considered as potential hosts (though Sochi may make some regret the push to allow developing countries to host the games, the success of Beijing shows it isn't inherently a bad idea and while Rio faces a lot of potential problems, it is still early enough that its impossible to say it will fail). As the developing countries (which are home to the vast majority of the worlds population and which most countries are part of) continue to grow more rapidly than developed countries, and Chinese, Indian, Brazilian and other major developing powers' influence expands, more IOC members will come from non-European, non-Western sources. China, with 1.3 billion people, is already an Olympic Power as is Russia. Other developing countries are beginning to be as competitive as most developed countries. As these changes continue, it's only natural that the IOC - like other international bodies - will change in its make-up to reflect new interests and global power structures. Most people aren't European, most people don't live in the developed world. It isn't right that Europe and the Anglophone developed countries continue to dominate the IOC in perpetuity and they won't - the games are becoming increasingly international with more countries competing with more athletes each year. As the middle class grows throughout the developing world, more and more citizens of developing countries will participate in sports seriously and more states will begin putting serious resources into building up Olympic teams and preparing bids. And yes, over time, the IOC will come to better reflect the diversity of countries and peoples participating in the games. Indeed, I would be surprised if the IOC does not cease to be dominated by developed countries within 20 years.
  10. The marriage of the games and capitalism is troublesome to me. There is certainly a need and place for private sponsorship to help fund the games and their presentation to the global masses, however I fear 'selling out' the games with too much overreliance on private sponsors and the host state. The Olympics have a lofty mission and are, themselves, a 'trusted brand' globally but we risk turning them into nothing more than a major commercial venture with the level of advertising that has come to affiliate with them. I'd like to see a reduction in the amount of private-sector, corporate sponsorship for the games and for individual teams. It really doesn't even fit with the principles behind the games; it's getting to a point where the amount of money a particular team is able to attract from private sector actors is a major means of ensuring a larger number of representatives for your country and better funds to prepare individual members to compete; over time I'd think this creates a viscious cycle in which wealthier states that are able to attract major sponsors receive more funding allowing them to invest more in each individual, expand their team and be competitive in more events while those who do poorly are less likely to attract future sponsors which undermines their ability to invest adequate amounts of funds into individuals, team expansion, improvement of training, etc. Commercialism helps reinforce the inequality resulting from different national contexts, disproportionately helping those who need the least help. I'd honestly like to see the Olympics involve some multilateral funding. This would also help expand the number of viable candidate cities as countries that have political stability, decent rule-of-law, low levels of corruption and viable host cities but which may be at a level of development where hosting the games could prove overly taxing or problematic in the short term. It would make the Games more inclusive in terms of hosts, it would help make bids seems less risky overall and provide additional incentives. Additionally, it would serve as an interesting, if discrete, means of foreign aid as it could help to build up major cities that are close to capable of hosting but which may need some initial financial assistance to overcome some obstacles. There are many who want to see only wealthy, fully developed cities host. At one point that made since; but today there are almost 200 countries and the vast majority of the world's population lives in the 120+ developing countries, not the rich ones. If all countries donated a tiny percentage of their budget, it could help to fund future games without paying for them in full and without removing ultimate responsibility from the host city and country - it would also reduce the influence of sponsors. There are cities I'd very much like to see as real contenders for upcoming games but are unlikely to guarantee a great show in their current context - we're facing this with the games coming in Brazil which, as a country, has the money and general capacity to host and has chosen one of the world's most beautiful cities - one that just looks perfect for the games, but which is facing a multitude of problems that could benefit substantially from a small amount of multilateral aid (and the accompanying regulations for its use) in the form of both finances and technical support. There is a lot of talk about South Africa hosting a summer games in 2024 or 2028 - I like the idea and agree that Africa should host the games as soon as it has a truly viable city. However, South Africa - even as the most advanced African state - simply remains unprepared to host the games without assistance. Some international funding by the IOC, along with a better developed technical assistance and oversight team, could be the difference between South Africa being able to win a bid in 2028 and 2036. It certainly would have been nice in 2004 to help Athens out which clearly had a special right to request and receive the games but also clearly had troubles doing so. Many might take issue with the notion of some international funding from IOC member states, but I see such support as no different than aid money provided to organizations like the World Bank, IMF or UNDP. If corporate sponsors are creating and reinforcing imbalances between countries that win medals and those that don't, between those that can host the games and those that cannot then diluting the influence of private sponsors (not eliminate them) through some multilateral aid.
  11. Good to hear! lol. Really, it is nice to hear others state that they may have an inclination, an educated guess as to who will most likely win, but simultaneously acknowledge that it can't be a foregone conclusion and they may very well be wrong. I see reasons now to discount some bids (Lviv, Beijing) but the dynamics of the race make the 3 viable contenders all realistic in my eyes. I seem to have come off as 'anti-Oslo' and I dislike that (I actually would prefer either Krakow or Almaty to Oslo but consider all three to be good choices). What I really am is interested in how politics, the unique composition of the IOC, Sochi and other factors will play into the choices of 115 individuals over the next year to determine which city gets it. I'm also interested in how we've seemingly developed an 'Upper-Income Non-EU European Democracy v Middle-Income EU Democracy v. Upper-Middle Income Autocracy dynamic that could lead to those with 'European' interests splitting the vote in favor of Almaty or which could see pro-'new places', 'pro-EU' forces put the games in Krakow if the final decision is between it and Oslo. What interests me the most is that although Oslo seems the most likely to win, when you account for multiple rounds of voting I actually think Krakow and Almaty have a better chance.
  12. Terrorism is certainly always a concern with an event that is as high-profile and internationally-oriented as the Olympics. That said, very few attacks have ever succeeded (Munich, Atlanta are the biggies as far as memory serves me). Sochi does have a much higher probability of such an attack and the Russian state is acting accordingly - Sochi itself was a bad choice of location for this reason (as well as the fact that it is one of the only cities in Russia with a Mediterranean climate...). However, I don't see any 2022 applicants as facing anything near the same level of threat as Sochi. Sochi is about 200/250 miles from two Russian 'provinces' that have had strong secessionist movements since the USSR collapsed, which are predominantly Muslim in a predominantly Orthodox Christian state and which the current President - turned PM - turned President again Putin owes his popularity ant power to - it was Putin's use of the Russian military to beat Chechnya and Dagestan into submission that made him so beloved by most Russians - and which made Russia itself one of the biggest targets for Muslim terrorists on Earth. Lviv aside, none of the applicants for 2022 face any significant security threats. Krakow may be 'close' to Russia, but it is in the EU and crime rates are very low. Oslo is one of the safest cities on Earth. Almaty, despite being part of the former Soviet Union, is like Krakow in terms of crime - it exists at very low levels with most being tied to corruption rather than violence and terrorism. Beijing has already shown itself a more-than-capable host and, anyways, isn't viable this round like Oslo, Krakow and Almaty. Security concerns won't decide the 2022 bid; there isn't enough difference in terms of overall safety issues between the serious contenders for it to be of significance.
  13. I keep feeling compelled to return to these forums to debate this topic; I debate politics so often it's rare for a topic outside my normal scope of interest to gain so much traction with me and it's rare for those participating in public forums online to make arguments interesting enough to hold my attention. Happily, this forum seems to buck tradition - it's a topic of great, but not central interest, yet it's unique enough to make interesting for longer than a short discussion plus everyone here seems to be quite well educated in terms of the history of the Games, even if people are making different types of arguments with different agendas (many are arguing which city should win or which is most deserving, others - including myself - seem more interested in who is most likely to win). The Oslo, Krakow, Almaty 3-way split does create an interesting dynamic. We have to anticipate that Lviv is already out - the political unrest in Ukraine is significant enough now to ensure that Lviv has absolutely no chance to host in 2022. Beijing, while viable in the sense of ability, does seem to be a choice most everyone agrees won't happen - it hosted the Summer Games just 6 years ago and is unlikely to be the first city to host both Summer and Winter games; it is vying for the games after neighboring S. Korea and Japan will host the previous two (and Russia two before that); and - honestly - Beijing just isn't the 'Winter' City that the games idealizes (as it's choice to host events outside of Beijing suggests). I personally think Beijing is bidding to continue presenting itself as an international powerhouse and to make bids for future games in other Chinese cities more palatable. It also may be to play 'kingmaker.' Without Lviv or Beijing, we've a 3-way race between one Central Asian city that has never hosted (from a region that has never hosted), once Eastern European city that has never hosted (from a region that has hosted and which is part of the EU) and a Scandinavian country that has hosted, but is not part part of the EU. It will be interesting to see the dynamic that Krakow and Oslo create between one another; there will be some that may want Europe to host again but who also want to see a 'new' host in a 'younger' democracy and lean for Krakow whiel others may not, and go with 'safer' Oslo. This could split some votes early on (and will likely contribute to Beijing being ousted - expectedly - in the first round of voting). Almaty is shaping up as the 'non-Western' and 'non-European' choice. Ukraine would have made things more interesting, but the political unrest in that country makes Lviv an impossibility, while Beijing knows it doesn't have a chance this time around thus vacating positions for any other non EU/European/Developed powers. Krakow v. Oslo will be an interesting dynamic to watch, and how much of those IOC members partial to new host cities not in the traditional, westernized developing countries will be forced to side with Almaty. The more I think about it, the more I think Oslo is the least likely - it may be the most popular in the first round of voting but when it comes to Almaty v. Krakow v. Oslo, I'm not sure Oslo beats either. There are a lot of Europeans who'd like to see a true EU member host AND a new country host, and would therefore push for Krakow over Oslo, while IOC members with interests tied more to the developing world will go with Almaty. This could become very interesting as there is a possibility that the final vote will be Krakow v. Almaty - in which case I think Krakow will likely win. If it is Almaty v. Oslo, I think it is a toss-up. If it is Krakow v. Oslo, Oslo takes it.
  14. Again, I'm hesitant to speak of the IOC as a unitary actor and skeptical of arguments which rely on heavily on treating it as such. The IOC is an institution - it has no agency, no opinion, no preference, no choice. It provides the framework for determining the people who will have a vote in the decision and the mechanisms through which the determination of vote - and how those votes are influenced/treated. At best, the IOC structure can lead to biases in favor of certain bids over others, but it will be the make-up of IOC voters - and the degree to which their choices are made public and require them to justify them publicly - that ultimately decides the host.
  15. I will grant you virtually all of that; to be honest, although I am a trained political scientist my interest in the politics surrounding the Olympic Games is nothing more than a hobby. I do tend, because of my training, to view things through purely politics lenses and my perspective will be biased to the degree that the important I place on political considerations is greater than the actual degree to which the IOC, in the aggregate, takes such considerations into account. However, in simpler terms, the argument that I'm using Almaty to make - and for which Almaty's bid is particularly interesting as it is truly serious insofar as it is a city that is generally recognized as being quite capable to hold the games - is that there is a major shift occuring in international relations from an International Community that treats Western Powers as the sole hegemonic influence to one that is far more divided, with many interests being solidly against those that favor any Western country. The collapse of the USSR gave the USA - and Western capitalism - a decade in the spotlight; anything focused on so closely for that long surely tarnishes and as the US has failed to live up to the reputation of international savior and the EU has succumbed to the internal squabbles inherent to any project seeking to develop powerful Supranational institutions that may eventually supplant the modern state. Meanwhile, China has led the developing world in becoming the central force of growth globally. With the developing world finally surpassing the developed world as supplying the majority of GDP, and with it supplying most annual GDP growth, the influence of developing countries is rising rapidly and is already tremendous. China has already made its presence known. Other developing powers are following suit. Brazil (one of the BRICS - or Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) is next in line to host the summer olympics, Russia has these winter games. In all, between Beijing and 2020 London is the only Western city/country to host the games. It is one of three developed countries to do so. Aside from London, since 2008 we've seen the rising superpower - China - host its first, incredibly successful, Games, we're now watching Russia host - though expectations for success are far lowere - and Brazil will have the next Summer Games making it the first developing country that is also a democracy to host the games (democratic politics can be especially problematic for would-be hosts in the developing world). South Korea and Japan secured back-to-back Olympics and while they aren't developing countries, they aren't Western - they are the two models of the Developmental State model of international development and are the Asian examples of truly democratic alternatives to the liberal notion of democracy so cherished in the West. Thus, between 2008 and 2022 only 1 Western country will have hosted the games (the UK) and 3 host cities will have been in developing countries (Beijing, Sochi, Rio de Janeiro) with the other 2 hosts (Pyeongchang & Tokyo) being in developed democracies - but not Western ones). To me there is a clear sign that the IOC is following broader trends seen in other international institutions; it is turning towards favoring developing countries and places too-long-ignored over well-established developed countries and cities. More international conferences, meetings of IGOs and INGOs, etc. are taking place in less-developed countries. The IOC itself is meeting to make these decisions in locales that couldn't yet host the games. But, the main underlying point - or question - is the degree to which newer IOC voting members have sympathies laying in Western, Developed countries and which have sympathies that are greater for non-Western, Developing countries. That is what fascinates me about 2022. Oslo is a clear frontrunner using standard metrics. However, Krakow presents a European 'alternative' that is more likely to win votes of Europeans generally (insofar as politics motivate their votes) which will muddy the waters. Meanwhile, it's looking like Almaty will be the only non-European option making it a frontrunner to many voters who want countries outside of Europe and North America to host the games. Almaty, as a relative unknown in the global community, maintains an air of exoticness for now and the degree to which the city is already ready, and can quickly become ready, will likely surprise some IOC members and the general public (as many still see Kazakhstan as being the country 'Borat came from' when, in fact, it has done better than any other former Soviet states other than Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in terms of growth and has a well developed infrastructure, educated population and disciplined state apparatus for implementing the policies necessary to host). Thus, for me this is a test of political influence and allegiance. I seek Krakow, Oslo and Almaty as all being capable of hosting good, safe, well-run games that are well-received. I believe Oslo has the 'traditional' vote, Almaty the 'exotic' and Krakow is spoiler. And I believe that this is really going to be an issue of how much the current IOC voters represent the global community and/or represent the types of shifts taking place in other major international institutions regarding which blocs of countries have the most clout and even how blocs are defined.
  16. Well, and this is where my ignorance gets in the way, I'm simply not clear as to who all is a voting member of the IOC and what the interests of those individuals are. Likely, EU membership doesn't matter much in terms of who Krakow's votes go to if it is voted out before Almaty. Neither Norway nor Kazakhstan are members, at most it simply means it is a non-factor. If Almaty goes out first, then their is the potential for things to get interesting. Oslo may appear the best choice, but I don't think there is much doubt that any of the current bidders (excluding Lviv) has the capacity to put on a decent Winter Games. Thus, I don't think Oslo automatically beats Krakow because Oslo has experience. Interests tied to Europe could very well lead some IOC members to vote in favor of Krakow over Norway - it may seem unimportant and unrelated on the surface, but Norwegian refusal to formally join the EU is not popular among the pro-EU parts of Europe's population and anyone with ties to pan-European nationalism (i.e. ties to most ruling political parties, those who have major business interests benefitting from an integrated Europe) may lean towards Poland as a 'first timer' rather than non-EU, traditional Norway. Point is, I can see it going any number of ways and while I see Oslo as most-likely, I don't consider it to be 'much more likely.' And - as a general comment - the IOC isn't a monolithic, unitary actor. It's individuals that comprise the IOC which will decide the outcome of the bidding process and while they will all likely follow basic IOC guidelines, the very fact that a country reaches the short-list suggests it meets the requirements to be a good choice of host. Thus, when it comes down to those votes it is the interests of those in the IOC - not the IOC as an abstract actor with its own interests - that are deciding.
  17. That's fine, then - and if I misconstrue what you're arguing I, again, apologize. My whole interest in the topic currently stems from the dynamics between what I see as viable cities and I do believe that many arguments I've read do not appear aware of the tremendous and fundamental shift we're currently witnessing in international politics, where the interest of the developing world in general, and major developing powers (of which recent/future hosts China, Brazil and Russia are apart) in particular, are now competitive with the interests of traditional, western developed-countries. The IOC, as I understand it, includes voters who have extremely varied interests and are increasingly from and/or have vested interests in non-European economies/regions. European countries are no longer the foregone conclusion they were two decades ago and there are only going to be greater, not weaker, pressures to bring the games elsewhere as the emerging powers take their place on the world stage. Almaty is now the non-European choice and I think that will attract a lot of votes. Perhaps I'm too cynical, but the notion of what voters 'should' vote for and what they actually will vote for, what their interests 'should' be and actually are are are the same just doesn't seem realistic. Almaty, with a viable and likely impressive bid, will provide a very compelling non-European, non-Western alternative to IOC voters. I am, as is apparent by now, a believer that political and economic calculations are significant motivators behind IOC votes. I believe that on it's own, Almaty is an attractive choice. It's a city in an 'up-and-coming' energy superpower that is clean, organized and can quickly and efficiently be built-upon and prepared for the games. It's nestled in the Altai mountains, untouched by the Olympics, and it is more consolidated than any of the competitor's bids. There is little reason to fear political instability or that the games wouldn't be fully funded and construction would fall behind - the funds exist and the state has the capacity. It's the last region on earth to be forced into becoming part of a modern state and - as a sovereign state - it has only been independent since 1991 with a culture of nomadism and city-states along the Silk Road. All legitimate reasons to allow a country to step onto the global stage, in my opinion, and reasons to give preference to a bid that is from a country - and region - never before represented in the Games. I also believe that being an Olympic Power should improve your right to host the games. It seems to me that this would be a way of perpetuating a viscious cycle in which countries host the games which makes their citizens more interested and them win more medals and therefore more likely to host the games while those that don't host have less capacity to improve interest in sports which leads to fewer medals and so on, and so forth. But that misses the point. I don't believe Almaty should necessarily receive the games. I'm interested in which country will win, which will be truly viable from a political perspective. I believe that there are a number of political forces favoring Almaty right now, many of which I've articulated, and I don't think the Western media has done a very good job of illustrating how these forces are reshaping the world.
  18. I admit that I can be hyperbolic and distort other's views at times and to the degree I have done that I apologize. I do not agree with the dichotomy you present in terms of factors driving the decision of a host city. You say that one factor is an 'egalitarian drive' - I generally agree with you on this, if a bit more cynically. The other you describe as the IOC's concern with keeping the games fresh and engaging. I agree that this, to, is a factor in the decision. However, these aren't the only two factors and the degree to which they, and others, influence the ultimate decisions of IOC members varies across time and individuals. The determination of host city is made through a series of votes by a very unique group of individuals with an array of interests. Some of them will be strongly principled, using their interpretation of true 'mission' of the Games as the main determinant of how they cast votes. However, even among the most principled IOC voters there will be differences of opinion as to what the Games are really for as well as which candidate best meets current needs. The remaining voters will consider these factors, but they represent many interests and have many - these are individuals who have reasons to prefer City X over City Y and City Y to City Z and though particular motivators may be unique to the individual IOC voter there are patterns when it comes to voting for cities and their countries. Thus, several rounds of voting that involve one major city dropping out means that the votes of the looser are likely to go to the remaining contenders in a manner that is not random and favors one (or more) significantly compared to another. I need to look more into the exact make-up of the IOC at present, but my understanding is that it - like many international institutions - is increasingly seeing members admitted that come from the developing world, which have interests and assets in regions not tied to Europe and the US in ways that wouldn't have existed a decade ago. Almaty is a powerhouse for one of the major up-and-comers and many interests in China, and those of Beijing, often line up with those of Kazakhstan. Norway is more disconnected from the international economy due to refusal to join the EU fully and due to structural changes while Poland is embedded within the EU which is seen increasingly by non-Europeans as an institution that has undermined global economic growth and ignored the needs of former colonies. Tokyo, Beijing, Rio, Pyeongchang, Sochi... you asked if I noticed a pattern, but do you? Cities that are not distinctly Western, 3 from countries not considered developed and the others from states that developed through economic models that defied US neoliberalism. For 2020, Madrid was favored to take out Tokyo nut after the US went the votes skewed to Asia. Brazil took South America's long-standing desire to receive the games, which will only push cities like Santiago and Buenos Aires to push serious bids and lobby for more inclusive choices in host cities. South Africa is widely seen as 'will be as soon as feasible' and more cities from parts of the world ignored two decades ago are serious and well-designed. Doha has made compelling bids. Almaty's current bid is clearly realistic. And there are many other cities that can host the summer games, if not winter, in the developing world. Rio will create hesitation if not successful, but China was impressive. Singapore, Kualu Lumpur, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sao Paulo, Santiago, Buenos Aires, Istanbul, Durban, Montevideo... all could conceivably be serious contenders now. Within a decade or two we'll see Bangkok, Jakarta, Ho Chi Minh, Mumbai, Manaus, Mexico City, Marrakech, Nairobi as real contenders. Those who see future prospects for cities from regions that wouldn't have been considered a decade are going to have an interest in seeing this precedent for 'new cities, new countries, new olympic potentials' continue.
  19. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I'm not convinced that there are very many interactions between groups of any size that aren't political The IOC is a politicized body making an extremely political decision; individual's interests align with the interests of states, cities and all types of interest groups. How this plays out in the decision making process is fascinating. How it plays out in the way the IOC portrays upcoming hosts, and judges those applying, it interesting as a way of representing the interaction of a very unique group of individual voters who are using formal - and informal - criteria to choose one city to host the most significant international sporting event of modern history. Politics will always be involved; how it plays out is the question!
  20. My interpretation of what you meant by 'fav' wasn't fair and I apologize for that. However, my underlying point remains - that I personally believe that Almaty will have more support than people appear to currently think. I also believe that Krakow is a very interesting competitor that doesn't seem as likely as either Oslo or Almaty (in my eyes) but could come out on top should Almaty loose out first and see most of its votes go to Poland over Norway. I just do not see Oslo as a foregone conclusion and I think the race is much more competitive than many consider it to be. The role of Beijing will be interesting, as well. Lviv is already a non-entity in terms of the politics of the situation (its loss could be seen as possibly helping Krakow, but Lviv's bid didn't live long enough to impact the political considerations at play to any significant degree), but there is no reason to think Beijing won't go all the way with its bid. However, Beijing simply doesn't stand a chance. And the Chinese have to know this; it's a means of justifying expenditures to further upgrade Beijing, to continue showcasing China's presence within the international community, the country's upcoming serious bids for future Olympic Games and - possibly - to wield influence as to the actual winner. China's influence is massive, but Beijing isn't competitive right now for many reasons that others have enumerated on. But its presence can lead us to three rounds of voting before ultimately settling on a host. Since we're playing a zero-sum game China's loss, and it will be the loss of several votes as Beijing isn't going down without meaningful support. China has vital interests in Kazakhstan - Kazakhstan itself is a major battleground over which energy politics between the EU, Russia, India and China are playing out and China has not only invested enormous time and finances into the country, it's been doing everything it can to bring the Kazakhstani state under its influence. Yet, Russia has strong interests in the country too and recently got Kazakhstan to join the very trade union that has already helped end Lviv's chances of hosting the games. If it comes down to Almaty, Krakow and Oslo I believe the first round will see Beijing lose, but with a meaningful total of votes. Oslo will be on top, Almaty will be second and Krakow - I'm not sure how it will fit into the equation. But Beijing will drop out and, given that Beijing's votes will be from those whose interests lie in that direction and when Beijing isn't going to be king, it can at least try and make kingmaker. It, along with most IOC members not directly embedded in the developed world, will have a strong interest in seeing Almaty succeed and this could easily ensure a further round of voting where Krakow (?) ends up losing. But the choices remain hard - Norway is unique as it actually is not a member of the EU while Krakow is. IOC votes coming from those whose interests lay in Asia, Africa, the developing world generally, energy, etc. have no political incentive stemming from their own beliefs, let alone those they represent, to support Norway. Norway's independence relative to an EU member may be liberating in some ways, but it leaves Norway itself as a far less influential power at the international level. At the same time, there are many IOC members who will not want to see the EU - blamed by many for perpetuating the economic crisis and being inadequate to responding to the concerns of former colonies - once again receive the Olympics when a developing country could. Thus, insofar as political-economic concerns motivate the initial and subsequent voters of IOC members, Beijing's remaining in the race won't lead to China hosting and the Chinese are well aware of this. The Chinese government is not going to bid for the games without reason, and they are savvy enough to know they won't win, so you have to ask what they gain. Most gains are domestic, but by accruing some votes in the first round China reinforces the view of it as a superpower, legitimates immediate growth in Beijing and helps establish its intention to host the games again by 2030. The votes in favor of it are going elsewhere when it loses round one and Almaty is the likely choice of the vast majority of Beijing-supporters. Assuming Oslo leads, this will almost certainly push Krakow out in the second round leaving Almaty and Oslo. The question then would be how many people on the IOC are going to have Krakow as their main choice and Almaty as their second, how many with Oslo as their second? Oslo's non-membership in the EU doesn't help it here - I'm not an expert on European politics regarding identity and public opinion. I'd assume Oslo would receive a majority of those initially supporting Krakow but the size of that majority (or whether it even is a majority) is very hard to assess.
  21. New to the forums... just thought I'd throw in my two cents. I'm an American, I'd enjoy seeing the Games in person while being hosted in my country. However, I don't think the US really deserves to host the games for awhile. There are a lot of viable cities and states that are seeking to host the games for the first time; it's hard for me to justify - from an international perspective - giving the games to the US again when so many emerging markets and growing international powers want to host the games, are capable of doing so but have yet to been given the games once. So long as there are serious contenders who've never hosted, they should be favored.
  22. I don't see 'really is the fave as long as they stay in' as much of an argument. The IOC members have many, varied and competing interests. There are many, many factors that will play into the ultimate decision and without real polls of the IOC members thoughts we have little to go on in terms of what is the favorite choice of the majority of voters. It's interesting to see the pros and cons of each, examine the interests of various factions within the IOC, look at the international politics involved in the decision, formulate different scenarios that get us to different winners but merely asserting that one city is the favorite so therefore they'll win isn't an argument worth having. i do agree that Oslo is most likely given the types of variables most typically viewed as important determinants, but that is very different from recognizing as a clear favorite that has no chance of losing. There are very real reasons why Krakow or Almaty could win and keep in mind, that if it is three bids we'll have two rounds of voting - if Krakow goes down first, how many votes does Oslo gain vs. Almaty? If Almaty goes down first, does that benefit Krakow more than Oslo?
  23. I shouldn't be as ignorant about this as I am, but does this analogy only apply to other citizens of the EU or to people of any nationality? If it really does eliminate issues regarding large numbers of border crossings, then that boosts Krakow's chances. However, it doesn't solve the more serious - if also more subtle - logistical problems involved with preparing and running the Games with municipal and national governments from two separate countries involved.
  24. I agree with your argument only to an extent, and I would qualify it by saying that it is much more applicable to the Winter Games than to the Summer Games. I can at least agree that the argument regarding an era of needing repeat hosts more often is probably true insofar as the Winter Games are concerned (though not the Summer Games). However, I question whether this is actually true at this point in time for the Winter Games. As globalization continues, and developing countries modernize in larger numbers and at increasing rates, the number of viable hosts will rise. The climate required for the Winter Olympics limits this, but not to a degree that there aren't capable countries that have an interest but which have never hosted. There are also several states that may not yet be able to host, but will at some point in the future. Right now two of the viable bids are from countries that haven't hosted and which do have the capacity to host the games - Kazakhstan and Poland. And writing off new locales as mere desire for 'novelty' is rather simplistic and offensive. The Winter Olympics are dominated by the developed countries far more than the summer and have far fewer countries participate. The reason for this is obvious: most developed countries are north of the tropics while most developing countries are within the tropics AND winter sports, generally, are more expensive to get involved in than are summer sports. Thus, we are limited to Europe, Asia and North America for hosts and virtually all the hosts are already part of the developed world and are largely Western. This won't change significantly, but that doesn't mean the status quo is acceptable or desirable. Norway is an established winter sport power and will remain so; they can provide star power but I'm not convinced that is something that all IOC members see as a good thing. There is something to be said for giving the games to countries that have high potential for winter sports, that demonstrate an interest and which have the capacity to host the games. This is a means of getting more countries invested more seriously in the games. All of this is to say that there are arguments to be made for and against the three viable bids. It is far to soon to say with certainty which will win and far too many factors can be construed as postives and negatives simultaneously. Oslo may be the most likely to receive the games, but Krakow's chance is very real and Almaty is a stronger contender than many seem to recognize.
  25. The Winter Games definitely suffer from a lack of viable host cities/states relative to the Summer Games, even if the Summer Games are typically more expensive and difficult affairs. However, there are still states that have appropriate climates that have never hosted the Games, summer or winter, and a some of these are capable of hosting games. Right now two of the three viable contenders (viablility, of course, being a matter of opinion here) are among these select few who haven't hosted but have reached the potential of hosting: Krakow and Almaty. Oslo represents a particularly 'safe' choice - it's hard to see anything going wrong. It, however, is the capital of a previous host country and is not going to help further the games in terms of trying to broaden appeal to an increasingly global audience nor does it fit in with the general trend in activities and voting patterns within major international institutions (of which the IOC is not independent, at least in terms of underlying causes for contemporary trends) that are favoring developing countries and - particularly - the so-called emerging economies. Krakow and Almaty represent more interesting, but viable, choices. No serious, obvious security threats exist with either, nor is either threatened with immediate criticism for the cost to the host city and country. Both face clear pros and cons. Krakow suffers from concerns about a dual-country games which makes the already difficult bureaucratic politics surrounding the preparations for any Games far more complex. It also remains a European country which is seen by many outside of Western cultures as being essentially no different from Europe (relevant insofar that international institutions have recently been showing the growing influence of developing countries - China has helped buoy the developing world to the point that it now provides more than half the global GDP and most of global economic growth now comes from developing countries; as the emerging economies continue to extend their influence, they are regularly doing so in favor of one another). Almaty is in an isolated region with an authoritarian government. It has a relatively small population despite its enormous geographic size and it has not yet become a serious 'Olympic Power' in terms of being a major competitor for medals. Now, I do believe Oslo has the best chance at this point. However, if I were to assign percentage points to these three bids (I do not see Beijing or Lviv as viable) I would only give Oslo a plurality. I think that Krakow is a long-shot: if the IOC decides to go to Europe, then the games will be Oslo rather than Krakow. I believe there will be a push among those seeking a less Western-oriented Winter Games for Almaty (and I do believe there is a lot of demand for this as Asian countries with winter climates become increasingly wealthy and, therefore, increasingly likely to send serious athletic contenders to the Games). Central Asia is a region that has gone understudied and generally been ignored since the collapse of the USSR. While most of these countries have suffered from chronic political instability, economic stagnation and widespread oppression Kazakhstan has witnessed unparalleled growth. Kazakhstan is very close to being a true 'energy superpower' already, and within a decade its influence insofar as global energy politics is concerned will be on par with that of countries like Saudi Arabia and Russia. There are political motivations for many in the developing world - and for both Russia and China - to support a Kazakhstani bid and Almaty is actually a rathery beautiful city in a location that is ideal for hosting the Winter Games. Honestly, I see this particular group of bids as being of special interest due to the dynamics of international politics at the moment as well as how the Olympic Games play into those dynamics. I won't write any of these three cities off as contenders, I can scenarios where each wins. Which argument, in fact, convinces the IOC and brings the games to one city rather than the others is what interests me - as do the implications.
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