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Everything posted by politician

  1. 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.
  2. Is this the best way of approaching bids, though? A successful bid can be an enormous boost to winter sports in a country where winter sports are not deeply entrenched; it's certainly more likely to increase interest in winter sports than in a country where that interest is already high. Rather than reinforcing the interests of repeated hosts, should the games be awarded to potential olympic powers to help them tap into that potential and boost overall competition?
  3. 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?
  4. In some cases, such as Athens, it would be nice to see more international cooperation and assistance for the host city. Of course host cities should cover the vast majority of the cost, but after a city receives the games a small amount of assistance could be beneficial. This could help open some more cities that are close to being capable of hosting but may be 'risky' financially given the amount of time required to bid, win and then prepare for the games. As the IOC seeks to let more countries host the games, and as hosting the games can bring much-desired international attention and improve economic growth in the long-run, there are reasons to desire to expand the capability of potential hosts so the number of potential hosts is higher and more countries can have their 'turn' at hosting. This not only would serve as one means of helping major international cities become 'world class' ; it would also allow for certain cities with special claims or considerations. Athens is the perfect example; it's hard to tell Athens no if they bid for the Olympics and do so very rarely. Being seen as the home of the Games gives you a lot of informal influence and I wouldn't have a problem with the IOC raising small sums to help keep projects on track (with a lot of oversight).
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. You act as if it's a certain science, and given the proper variables you can determine the outcome with certainty. I'm merely arguing that - as I see it - Almaty is seriously underestimated. Oslo is the most likely to receive the games, but I believe - for reasons I've given and can expand upon - that Almaty is likely the current runner-up with Krakow being the only other serious contender. If I come off overly enthused about Almaty, part of that is attributable to a personal interest in seeing regions and cultures of the world that have generally been ignored given this level of attention and part of it that I simply believe that people generally strongly underestimate the significance of Kazakhstan's rise and the seriousness of Almaty's bid.
  9. 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.
  10. I thank you for your compliment and am glad that my reasons for being skeptical of Krakow, Beijing and Lviv are shared by others. I do understand your arguments against Almaty and agree that many of them will be factors in the ultimate decision regarding who will host the games. However, I do have some minor quibbles: 1. I don't think Sochi will hinder or help Almaty's chances. Yes, both are in former Soviet Socialist Republics but so is Ukraine (whose bid wasn't unreasonable prior to the recent political unrest) while Poland (and Slovakia) was within the Warsaw Pact and was practically a Soviet Republic. Thus, only Oslo and Beijing weren't tied to the USSR. If the argument is deeper than that, implying that violence surrounding Chechnya/Dagestan and the threat it poses to Sochi will hurt Almaty's chances I would take issue with such a line of reasoning. Despite the western edge of Kazakhstan being near Chechnya and Dagestan (and actually in Europe), Almaty is on the eastern edge of the sparsely-populated country. Additionally, Dagestan and Chechnya are more conservative and militant in their practice of Islam and have been fighting an insurgency against Russia since the collapse of the USSR - they don't have issues with Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, Islam is tempered by years of state-imposed atheism and a history of mixing Islamic beliefs with mysticism, paganism, animism and sufism - Kazakh Muslims drink and Kazakh women enjoy rights not seen in Middle Eastern countries. Kazakhstan actually is quite stable politically and socially - much more so than either Russia or China - and it's entire population has benefited from the country's unbelievable growth following independence. 2. Yes, Kazakhstan is not an Olympic power. However, it has potential. Remember a couple things: (A) Kazakhstan may be the 9th largest country on Earth in terms of geographic size but it only has about 18 million people thus from a purely numerical point of view focused on population size, it should not be expected to be winning the amount of medals a Russia or US will win; ( Kazakhstan has only existed as a sovereign state since 1991 - prior to that it was a Soviet Socialist Republic before which is was conquered by the Russian Empire but, outside Russian rule, Kazakhstan didn't even exist as an idea before the 1990s - prior to 'The Great Game' between the British and Russians Kazakhstan was an ungoverned land of small city-states/khanates and wandering, small nomadic clans. Thus, it's only a little over 20 years old and shouldn't be expected to have a sports program on par with states that are centuries old. However, Kazakhstan is in a colder climate, is home to some of the most beautiful mountain ranges on Earth and it's enormous economic growth has led to a fast-growing middle-class population that has shown more and more interest in pursuing sports. 3. I do agree that the current indifference of many Norwegians could easily give way to support in time and that it isn't enough to make Oslo's bid likely to fail. Norwegian politics are somewhat unique and it is possible that, should Norway experience greater economic problems (possible, given the substantial structural changes being implemented in many Scandinavian countries to resolve problems with over-extension of welfare programs). Norway's refusal to join the EU may further complicate the situation, though that's mere speculation. 4. I understand the argument that Sochi was 'risky.' I agree that Rio is extremely risky. Hell, Beijing was risky as was Athens (and Athens was a democratic, developed city). I do not understand Pyeongchang being a risky choice however. Perhaps I don't know enough about it, other than that it isn't an internationally famous city for winter sports. South Korea is a stable, wealthy developed democracy that has hosted the games before (the larger summer games, in fact). South Korea seems to me a safe choice. The IOC was also 'safe' in choosing Tokyo for the summer games following Pyeongchang. Sochi, on the other hand, was a major risk - Putin's borderline personality cult and monumental ego, Russia's rising ultranationalism and the choice to have a summer resort town bid for the winter games all should have raised red flags. But Beijing was risky as well and they did an amazing job (though there were valid humanitarian concerns). Rio is worrisome; the democratic, corrupt, rough-and-tumble nature of Brazilian politics will make hosting very difficult despite Brazil having the economic capacity to do so (and despite Rio being one of the most gorgeous possible hosts). Pyeongchang? Not so much. 5. Finally, the 'Asia' concern doesn't convince me. Keep in mind Asia has well over 1/2 of the entire planet's population, with more than 4 billion people compared to Europe's 740 million. 'Asia' includes regions that are very different in terms of culture, religion, history, language - to a far greater extent than any other continent. Hell, many forget that the Middle East is in Asia. China did host recently, it's geographic and cultural neighbors of South Korea and Japan will host soon so I can see an argument against another East Asian (and maybe Southeast Asian) state hosting soon, but Central Asia is so dramatically different so the argument that 'it's in Asia' doesn't seem to hold any weight. We really should take a regional view and stop lumping regions as dramatically different as the Middle East, Central Asia, the Russian Far East, East Asia, South Asia and Southeast Asia together as 'Asia' for purposes of the games. Oh, and though I don't think it matters at all, it is interesting to note here that about 1/10th of Kazakhstan is in Europe.
  11. I am really surprised by the number of people who don't consider Almaty's bid to stand much of a chance. Indeed, it's why I signed up to this site. In reading what little there is written thus far about 2022 (aside from extensive articles on Stockholm's dropping out and Norwegian ennui towards the games), Almaty appears to be seen as the only threat to Oslo. Rather than go over the reasons again, you can see the posts I provided over the last couple hours in the Oslo and Almaty threads.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. It's rather irresponsible of the Lviv municipal government to not immediately rescind its bid. There is no chance of Lviv being chosen to host the 2022 Olympics; indeed, current events suggest Ukraine may be out of the running for the next few rounds of bidding. The national government is collapsing, protests are massive and countrywide, the president is intransigent and the country is on the verge of a civil war that would serve as a proxy war between the EU and Russia. There are only 4 legitimate bids left: Almaty, Krakow, Beijing and Oslo.
  16. Oslo is the clear front-runner, but I don't see it as a given by any means; this is not a done deal. The Norwegian public has major reservations about hosting the games and the IOC will be hesitant to award the games to a country where the population appears less than enthused. Additionally, and this could be seen as a benefit or hindrance, Norway has hosted the games before. There has certainly been a push lately to have countries that have never hosted the games before, but which are capable, to be given the opportunity. Now, given the tension surrounding Sochi and the wild ride that is sure to be Rio, the IOC may want to play it safe in which case a previous host - and an extremely wealthy developed country - is the safest bet. However, Tokyo and Pyeongchang are not risky hosts and Norway may come off as a 'boring' host regardless of whether or not that is an accurate viewpoint. So who do I consider to have a chance? Lviv is clearly no longer in the running and it's sad to see that they seem to be carrying on with the charade of bidding as the country around them is collapsing. Ukraine is incredibly unstable with civil war a real possibility - they aren't going to be in any position to host the games. I don't see Beijing as having any realistic chance either; it's hard to see Beijing being the first city to host both summer and winter games. China put on arguably the most impressive Olympics of the contemporary era, but the IOC hasn't forgotten the controversies. Beijing is suffering from greater pollution problems, it isn't seen as an ideal winter-city and China itself is undergoing substantial financial restructuring that is going to make preparing for the games a diversion. Anyway, (nearly) neighboring South Korea will host the Winter Olympics prior to 2022 and Tokyo will be hosting the Summer Games in 2020 - I don't see China getting the games giving East Asia 3 consecutive games. Krakow and Almaty both have far better chances, in my opinion. However, honestly I am likely in the minority in believing that this is essentially a two-way choice between Oslo and Almaty. Krakow's bid is complicated by the fact that it intends to host some of the games in neighboring Slovakia. While not explicitly against the rules, and the acceptance of the bid illustrates this, the dual-country hosting is problematic. Granted, both Poland and Slovakia are members of the European Union which will mitigate some of the issues face dual-country bids normally, they won't change everything. It would be a security and logistical nightmare; it's tough for cities to coordinate expenditures, revenue raising, security, tourism, etc. with their national governments; to have two cities from two countries doing so would be a bureaucratic mess. Distance doesn't help. Not out of the realm of possibility, but problematic. Almaty is seen by some as a dark horse, and others write it off derisively. However, Almaty has bid before and has a surprising amount of base infrastructure. It also is the most consolidated bid, with all games being held in close proximity to one another. Almaty itself is a beautiful city, next to pristine mountains with great resorts that are largely unknown to the Western World. Kazkahstan has also experienced incredible economic growth since the fall of the USSR; it is now an upper-middle class country and will be considered developed in 10 to 20 years. It has enormous revenues from natural resources and can easily fund the games; it has a small population that is very much in favor of the games and also has enormous territory meaning there is little threat to the property of marginalized groups. Honestly, it's a rather exotic locale and many would argue it's time for Central Asia's coming out party. Kazakhstan is also set to be a major geopolitical power; having a broader, larger mix of natural resources than any country on Earth other than Russia and also being located between Russia, China and India - it's becoming a major player and will only become more influential globally over time. The fact that Kazakhstan is governed by a dictatorship leading what is essentially a single-party state with little civilian control of the military is arguably its greatest problem. However, while Nazarbayev isn't a good guy he's not 'bad' insofar as dictators are concerned. He has managed to show that his interest in the well-being of the populace and economic growth are concerns and it's hard to argue that the Kazakhstani government is any worse than China or Russia. In the end, it's a country that is young, but rich and culturally fascinating. Almaty itself is gorgeous and surprisingly ready to do what it takes to prepare for the games and will be able to do so in a consolidated area meaning no 100km treks from Skiing to Skating. While Central Asia is a bit out of the way in terms of international travel, Sydney was far more so and Sochi isn't much more difficult. Rio is also not the most accessible locale. In the end I believe it's either Norway or Kazakhstan. Ukraine's political collapse has ended its chance. China just hosted, and is trying to host the winter games following games held in neighboring Korea AND Japan. Poland is trying to split the games between two countries and is having some domestic issues as part of the ongoing economic crisis in the EU. Norway is the safe choice; it has a highly efficient state with plenty of money in addition to previous experience hosting the games. However, it's population isn't incredibly enthusiastic and the choice of Oslo isn't in keeping with many's idea of a more 'globally inclusive' games. Kazakhstan is the riskier, exotic choice; it's an authoritarian state that was one of the most isolated parts of the USSR and was nothing more than small Khanates and nomadic tribes prior to Russia's conquest. Most people hear Kazakhstan and think Borat (which filmed it's 'Kazakhstan' scene in Romania) whereas the reality is that it's a fast growing, increasingly influential geopolitical power. In terms of money, discipline and location it really is an ideal choice. It is can compete with Norway and China in terms of funding the games - it's oil wealth alone is more than enough - and it's tight bureaucracy and successful wide-scale infrastructure developments indicate it has the expertise necessary to expand facilities in Almaty quickly and well. It's actually in a globally central location - part of the classic Silk Road, it's half-way between Beijing and Brussels (it's just not convenient to Americans). It's a location fully capable of hosting the games, it's long isolation means it has an inherently interesting and unique appeal (the nomadic culture of the steppe goes nicely with the idea of winter games and is something that other bidders can't match in terms of exoticness) and, despite being an authoritarian state, it is a Muslim country that remains very stable both politically and economically (since no Muslim country has ever hosted the games, and the Qatari government made accusations of discrimination when Rio was put up for the 2016 Olympics when Doha scored better a stable country like Kazakhstan, where Islam is more moderate and the games wouldn't require a change in terms of time-of-year could be a great way to get rid of that criticism). We'll have to see how things go in Sochi, first - and the actions of Norwegian politicians and public opinion, before the odds are clear. I still think that - at most - this is a three way race. Lviv is out, Beijing is more than a long-shot. Krakow could be chosen - but the choice to include some of the games in Slovakia makes it more difficult. Oslo can clearly host the games and do so efficiently and without difficulty; Almaty will have further to go to get there but it certainly has the capacity (more than Rio, and Rio is hosting the more expensive summer games while Almaty is seeking the less-expensive winter games and is also a city nestled into the mountains with quite a bit needed infrastructure-also hosting the games would play into Almaty's plans to become a world-class tourist destination)
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