The IOC has a relatively easy decision to make in July when it votes on the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games - but it may have to do so through gritted teeth.
Following the withdrawals of Stockholm Air Max Sale , Krakow, Lviv and Oslo, the race is now down to just two horses: Beijing and Almaty. Beijing has several weak points to its bid, but its Kazakh rival is not a city that can exploit those weaknesses.
For a start, international attention has already focused on media restrictions Nike Air Max White Sale , with Beijing bid spokeswoman Wang Hui saying last week that sites such as Facebook and Twitter would be unblocked for the duration of the Games, should Beijing be successful.
Similarly, much has been made of the bloated budget for the Sochi Games in 2014, with a figure in excess of $50 billion being blown by the Russians. Almaty recently made substantial cuts to its original budget, slashing nearly a seventh off the total to reduce the purse to just $3 billion. It was an impressive feat of cost-cutting Nike Air Max Black Sale , but looks somewhat less so when set against Beijing's budget, which is also though to be in the region of $3 billion.
The IOC's Agenda 2020 reforms are designed to encourage more cities to bid for Olympic Games, something that would be far more believable if the Goliath of Beijing is toppled by David's Almaty.
In line with those reforms, Almaty wins points for the compactness of its bid, but China's high-speed rail prowess means that the 190 kilometers between the ice and snow events will feel little more than a mid-sized morning commute.
Almaty is a clear leader when it comes to winter sports - it has hosted major international competitions Nike Air Max Sale Clearance , and will do so again - but it is China's untapped potential that will surely see the IOC rule in its favor.
Beijing's bid file promises to get 300 million people involved in skiing and skating events - a ludicrously overambitious plan, even in a country of more than 1.3 billion souls. But even if only a tenth of that number take up winter sports in China, it could revolutionize the entire industry.
For a sports body whose aim is to promote a number of what can only be described as "fringe" sports, such as curling or skeleton, that pull will surely be too great for the IOC to resist.
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