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Posts posted by politician

  1. How is it racist? Because you think Almaty will Win and we don't, you throw serious allegations? You contradict yourself. You say there is more to the World then Europe, but Asia should Host 3 Olympics in a row. There is more World then Asia. Asia is part of the World, not the World. Just because I and some others think Oslo will win and some feel Krakow will Win, doesn't mean we are racist. Get your facts correct.

    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; (B) 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; (B) 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. Which is exactly the problem with the IOC as a whole: they own the biggest sports competitions in the world and should always be interested in putting sports interests first. But since many members have other agendas - which might even be hidden - we get a place like Sochi to host Winter Games.

    An IOC member from, e.g. Djibouti, shouldn't have any interest in Winter Games anyway, at least not in the sense of "what bid city would be most beneficial for Djibouti". But the selection process is debated elsewhere...

    Among your pro-Almaty arguments, you seem to suggest that China will push it once Beijing is out because they have stakes in Kazakhstan. I don't think they will. Whether Beijing goes out before Almaty is debatable anyway, but if they do, I think the Chinese will be keen to get the host as far away from China as possible as they themselves have a clear interest in hosting themselves. And if they fail in 2022, they are likely to try for 2026 again, with little chance of success if Almaty gets 2022 (even more so right after another Asian host in 2018).

    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. That's what a lot were saying about 2020 with Tokyo. But judging by the vote tally, that wasn't the case. The people that make the claims about the how many voting rounds they'll be & therefore be benificial or to a certain city or not is just as clumsy as making claims of "voting bloc". Both are neither here nor there in a secret ballot.

    And can't see any good reason why anyone would lump Beijing with Lviv. Not even close. One is on the brink of a civil war, & the other is the capital of a rising, economic superpower. So what if they already hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. Again, the Chinese are merely an insurance policy for 2022 if one, or both of the top two bids, Oslo & Krakow, falter in any way. The IOC already knows first-hand that the Chinese can deliver & without too much fuss, unlike the Russians. Seriously, for some claiming to know so much about politics, it seems to silly to literally discount the Chinese, bcuz politics is precisely what's gonna get them on to the 2022 Short-list, akin to Moscow 2012 being included (even though most knew that they weren't going to win anyway), while shoving both Rio & Istanbul to the wayside.

    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. That's what a lot were saying about 2020 with Tokyo. But judging by the vote tally, that wasn't the case. The people that make the claims about the how many voting rounds they'll be & therefore be benificial or to a certain city or not is just as clumsy as making claims of "voting bloc". Both are neither here nor there in a secret ballot.

    And can't see any good reason why anyone would lump Beijing with Lviv. Not even close. One is on the brink of a civil war, & the other is the capital of a rising, economic superpower. So what if they already hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics. Again, the Chinese are merely an insurance policy for 2022 if one, or both of the top two bids, Oslo & Krakow, falter in any way. The IOC already knows first-hand that the Chinese can deliver & without too much fuss, unlike the Russians. Seriously, for some claiming to know so much about politics, it seems to silly to literally discount the Chinese, bcuz politics is precisely what's gonna get them on to the 2022 Short-list, akin to Moscow 2012 being included (even though most knew that they weren't going to win anyway), while shoving both Rio & Istanbul to the wayside.

    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. According to the World Bank both Norway and Poland are high-income countries, and Kazakhstan is upper-middle.

    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. This isn't the Clash of Civilizations and you aren't Samuel Huntington. I think IOC voting is done on a more personal level than you suggest.

    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. Sure the athletes vote, but they vote within the system the IOC has created to work this way. If they're going to leave the procedure for determining the athletes' commission as-is (which will always invite more Europeans -- especially at Winter Games), then they need to revise some of their other selection procedures to start evening out the percentages.

    I don't expect the makeup of the IOC to be perfectly balanced, but I do think it is too heavily European right now and has been for as long as anyone can remember. Europe will always have more members than other continents, but the ratios can be improved.

    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.

  9. 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.

  10. Im also hesitant to speak that IOC members are taking their choice considering all those valuable arguments brought by gamebidd.com members instead of 'where I want to spend 2 weeks of holidays in 2022' or 'where the better meal will be served' xD.

    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.

  11. I was wrong in thinking that Krakow would be denied the Games because of Jasna, but I still believe Oslo has the stronger Bid. After having the last two Winter Olympic Games in new places (Sochi and PyeongChang), I think it's the right time for a 'Traditional Winter Powerhouse', as a safe secure option. If Oslo does pull out, then I think that the IOC would then want to go to a new place, of choosing Krakow 2022. Just my view on the matter though, I could be wrong.

    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.

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  12. if the IOC voters want the games in Krakow, they'll overlook having the alpine events in Slovakia. If they want the games elsewhere, they'll use that as an excuse.

    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.

  13. Yeah, you're right in that, the IOC, like any group of individuals, is a political organisation. But the peculiar politics of the IOC go much farther than a narrow focus on geopolitical and global-economic concerns that you emphasise. The IOC isn't the UN, G20 or the World Economic Forum. It's the administrator of an idiosyncratic sports event. An event with some pretensions to idealistic aims like globalism and striving for excellence but which is also a super-lucrative entertainment spectacle riding on its good reputation and commercial and social attractiveness to attract the interest of hosts and sponsors to make them possible. It's an organisation whose members, as you've acknowledged, span as many opinions as any large group of people would be expected to have, but which has a structural bias towards sports representatives and federations, and the European/western location and environment in which many of these federations operate.

    Some may well be looking at wider geo-poliutical-economic-historical matters when they make their decisions. Many others will be looking towards things like: What is best for the future viability of the Olympics? What is best for my particular sports federation? What is best for my nation or NOC? What makes for the most attractive backdrop for the TV audiences? Which bid's sports venues are the most technically excellent? Which city is best prepared or has the best facilities or transport or logistic infrastructure? Which can raise the most local sponsorship? Which is likely to draw the most enthusiastic crowds and give good audiences for the TV footage? Which city has the best long-term legacy plan? Which region hosted it last, and whose turn is it now? Which city have I had a better time in before? Who do I owe favours to? What does Bach the boss want? Which city would my wife or husband like best?

    Which all comes down to say, I think you're strongly over-estimating Almaty's appeal. Most of your passionately-argued championing of Almaty relies too much overemphasising it's geopolitical and (potential) economic claims, but overlooks the particular commercial, reputation and sporting concerns of the IOC. I don't dismiss Almaty totally out of hand - I do think this could be the central-Asian/"Stan" bid that finally cracks the short list. But I truly do think that's as far as could go realistically this time. The only way I could see it winning is if the two other bids most mentioned in these threads fall by the wayside and it's left only to a choice between it, Beijing and Lviv.

    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.

  14. Schengen area is not identical with the EU, e.g. the UK does not take part in it. However, all citizens of the Schengen countries can travel freely and so can everyone from outside who gets the relevant papers to enter in at least one of them, to my understanding. So, anyone who can enter Poland, can also travel without extra permit to Slovakia.

    Get with the flow! Thomas Bach has said politics and Olympics shouldn't be mixed ;-)

    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!

  15. To be picky, the bigger issue is that both are Schengen signers, which means travel between the two isn't much more than travel between Indianan and Michigan.

    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.

  16. It's great to have a Kazakh supporter on these boards! Now we have supporters for Oslo, Krakow and Almaty. Nice diversity.

    I wouldn't necessarily consider myself a Kazakh 'supporter' - I have no real emotional interests or investments in the decision. I am a political scientist and I find the games an especially interesting, unique phenomenon in modern international politics. I do believe globalization is leading to dramatic and fundamental changes in the world, including altering geopolitical relations and creating a generation of countries that are variously defined as 'emerging markets,' 'upper-middle class,' 'secondary powers,' etc along with interests that don't fit more traditional views of national interest. I really began my serious studies of comparative politics by examining the Central Asian republics and although I don't specialize in that region these days it has always held a particular interest.

    The point of view I offer here is essentially one colored by my analysis of international relations surrounding the game at this time combined with the contextual factors of each bidding city. Perhaps I do have a bias in favor of seeing a country unknown to many as important, but I believe my views are all substantiated well beyond that. I also know that the average person in the US, and even the average globally-aware news consumer, knows very little of Central Asia or Kazakhstan and it is simply my opinion that Almaty is a city likely to be seriously underestimated.

    In the end, it's always about politics with me.

  17. The IOC has given the Games to other oppressive regimes, but those in question here like Russia & China, far eclipse Kazachkstan in the geopolitical sphere. China has 1/5 of the worlds population & is a rising global superpower. It was obvious that the IOC couldn't ignore such a presence much longer. Let's keep in mind, it still took the Chinese two tries before they got the Games.

    And Russia, Putin offered to throw everything at the Winter Games, & Russia was also the only strong winter sport nation that had yet to host the Winter Games. Not exactly apples to apples comparisons here. Almaty might look good on paper, but still, what is so compelling about giving them the Games. Even Erdogan couldn't pull it off for his Istanbul, & the Turks definitely had much more of a case for it.

    Other authoritarian regimes have won the games; South Korea received the 1988 games long before the military formally handed power to a civilian government in 1987. The USSR - which is not the same as Russia despite Russia being its successor state - held the games in 1980 while Yugoslavia held the Winter Games in 1984. Nazi Germany obviously hosted the games. Mexico hosted in 1968 and was, at best, an illiberal democracy at the time. Italy was to host the games in 1944, only to have them cancelled due to the War (they were given to Italy when it was run by a fascist government however). It isn't unprecedented.

    Also, I think a lot of people underestimate the current - and more importantly, future - geopolitical importance and influence wielded by Kazakhstan. One of the largest countries in the world in terms of geographic size, Kazakhstan has a rather small population but does have possibly the largest amount of natural resources of any country - it is in the top 10 for oil and natural gas and for over 40 highly valuable rare-metals and is the world's largest provider of uranium (roughly 25% of the entire world's supply). It is also home to the only major facility for launching manned missions into space - both the US and Russians use the Kazakh facility to launch rockets to the International Space Station.

    It is the dominant power, by far, in Central Asia and it's geographic location places it right between China and Russia, with India and Iran nearby. The insatiable demand for oil, gas, metals, etc. from China, India and Russia makes Kazakhstan an economic powerhouse in the making. China and Russia have long competed over Central Asia's enormous - and still largely untapped - resource wealth and Kazakhstan is the state that determines the allocation of these resources. India's impending rise only increases the importance of Kazakhstan as an alternative to the unstable Middle East and further increases the significance of its enormous wealth in other resources. Essentially, Kazakhstan is quickly transforming into a leading energy superpower which will eventually surpass Saudi Arabia in economic importance.

    There are certainly problems with Kazakhstan - and the authoritarian dictatorship of President Nazarbayev is part of that - but it clearly isn't a deal-breaker and Kazakhstan's surprising ability to maintain good relations with Russia, China, the US and the EU suggests that this won't be a disqualifier (nor should it given that Beijing is vying for it's second games in less than two decades).

    The massive wealth, substantial extant facilities, pristine Altai mountains, unknown/exotic culture, etc. of Kazakhstan makes it a fascinating possible location for the games and suggests that it will have a relatively easy time preparing for them compared to, say, Rio.

  18. What logistical problems... much less significant logistical problems. Otherwise, nice write-up.

    Some of the logistical problems will be mitigated by the fact that both are members of the EU, however having the games span two countries implies increased difficulties in terms of travel for those moving between the two countries. More importantly, it involves coordinating policy and approaches not only between a municipal government and its national government, but between two municipalities in two countries governed by two sets of laws with two very different political relationships between each and their national government AS WELL as between two countries. Who will fund what, how will responsibilities be divvied up, what happens if one country doesn't fulfill their part of the deal, what do changes in party leadership/government in one country imply for the games, how do you determine which state has the power to make which decision, how do you get two separate military and police forces to cooperate with each other (aside from with one another within a single state). I'm not sure how much EU policy eats away at questions regarding travel visas and the like, but situations may also arise in which athletes and their families have difficulty entering one country but not the other.

    Not saying these are deal breakers, but they require the IOC to coordinate the development of the games between two states instead of one (this also adds a problem in laying blame; it can incentivize shirking and lead to situations in which one state blames the other for shortcomings - a possibility that can increase as political parties in one state find means to use the games for their own domestic political advantage). I generally worry about the idea of splitting the games between two states. Having both states as EU members helps reduce, but not eliminate, my fears.

    Oslo would seem a stronger choice if the IOC decides Europe is the place to go; Krakow does add the possibility of a new country hosting for the first time but it isn't as 'exotic' or 'interesting' (in a non-Western, little-known part of the world sort of way) as Almaty and faces more difficult political questions regarding hosting the games.

    Unlike Beijing and Lviv, I do believe Krakow could win but highly doubt it. I honestly believe it is already down to Oslo and Almaty.

  19. I admit, Almaty are probably the 'dark horses' of the Bid process, but they still won't win.

    I strongly believe this is a two-way race: Oslo v. Almaty. Krakow is the dark horse, so far as I see it. Stockhold dropped out of the running, Lviv still refuses to do so but for reasons that should be obvious it won't be considered. Beijing just hosted the Summer Olympics 6 years ago and is unlikely to be the first city chosen to host both the summer and winter games (and unlikely to be chosen after neighboring South Korea hosts the games in 2018 and Tokyo does so in 2020 - Kazakhstan may be part of Asia, but it is very different from East Asia).

    Without Beijing or Lviv as viable choices, only Krakow stands between an Oslo v. Almaty matchup. However, Krakow's bid includes hosting some events in Slovakia which presents rather significant logistical problems and could create more uncertainty regarding how the games will be developed than the IOC would like - Krakow also will face greater funding and construction problems than Almaty or Oslo.

    Oslo is the clear frontrunner. Norway has experience with the Olympics, Oslo has enormous capacity and Norway is very wealthy. However, it has hosted the games relatively recently which may hurt given that the IOC wants new countries to host and BOTH the 2018 and 2020 games will be in countries which have already hosted past games. Additionally, the Norwegian public doesn't appear particularly enthusiastic about hosting the games (and future economic forecasts for Norway don't bode well for attempts to dramatically swing public support to favor hosting).

    Almaty lacks the experience and the 'developed world' reliability of Norway. However, having hosted the Asian Winter Games and its hosting of future major events shows it can pull off large-scale events. Moreover, Kazakhstan has an exotic appeal and rich history. The country has experienced tremendous economic growth since gaining independence in 1991 and the GDP per capita increased by well over 1200% in 20 years. While authoritarian, the IOC has granted the games to authoritarian states in the past - including the current games in Sochi. The authoritarian government of Kazakhstan, though implicated in the kinds of awful crimes attributed to most authoritarian regimes, has actually been very well run, highly successfull in maintaining 20 years of political stability and very disciplined with a real interest in economic and human development. I'm no apologist, President Nazarbayev isn't a good guy but there are far worse (Putin!). Almaty is an unknown to much of the world, but has a lot of space to expand, is clean and is very close to several world-class winter sports facilities along with being nestled up in the Altai Mountains where no Winter Games have ever gone and that few in the world have seen (and they are gorgeous). Kazakhstan's wealth and stability, along with growing experience in hosting international events, indicate they are capable of hosting the Winter Olympics. The fact that they will hold all events in very close proximity, where the other bidders want to have some events as far as 100+ km from the city, helps too. I really don't see anything against them; even politically (they are a rising geopolitical superpower and while not easily accessible to the US, it's central location in Eurasia makes it rather easy for athletes in Europe, Asia, etc. to make it there.

    Oslo is safer, Almaty is more exotic.

    • Like 1
  20. True, but SA sounds probably more "sexy" as an idea than Kazakhstan (not to mention Azerbaijan). For many people around the world, the latter two are still provinces of the Soviet Empire anyway...

    Most people in the US, at least, didn't even know Kazakhstan existed until 'Borat' came out - and even then many thought it a made-up country. Not sure why Kazakhstan isn't 'sexy' - it has a rich history tied to the Silk Road and nomadic clans; Almaty itself is picturesque, surprisingly clean for a large city in the developing world, has lots of open space for building and expanding necessary infrastructure and absolutely gorgeous mountains surrounding it. It seems like a very exotic, unique place to my ears and there certainly is a push to give the Olympics to countries that haven't hosted before and to give countries considered part of the developing world the chance to host. Now, few developing countries have the capacity to do so. Kazakhstan, however, is one that does. Certainly has greater capacity to do so than either Azerbaijan or South Africa. The SA question is a bit more complicated though, insofar as Africa is now the only continent (aside from Antarctica - now there would be an interesting Winter Games) never to host the games - or at least it will be after the Rio games.

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