BEIJING - Kazakhstan will host the Asian Winter Games for the first time in a 100 days.
The organizers are confident the grand sports event will be held at the highest international level. In Astana and Almaty, ambitious infrastructure projects are nearing completion as preparations begin for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Asian Games.
The successful implementation of plans for this major continental competition have a lot to do with President Nursultan Nazarbayev, who brought the society together and provided the impetus for the Asian Games 2011 project.
The president stressed that hosting the Games would boost Kazakhstan's development - along with the nation's chairmanship of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) - and also significantly increase the international prestige of the country in the world of sport.
Despite media speculation that Kazakhstan would be unable to complete the necessary preparations on time for the Games in the midst of the global financial crisis, almost all projects have been finished.
Today, the finishing touches are being put on new infrastructure, including the modern stadium in Astana which seats 30,000and will host the opening ceremony as well as other major events such as European Championship qualifying games.
Also in the final stages of construction are two structures in the capital - the Ice Arena and cycling track, which have been refurbished for winter sporting events and are the new gems of Astana. In addition, the sports complex 'Kazakhstan' has been reconstructed and hosted games played by Continental Hockey League club Barys last month.
Almaty is the location of the transformed sports palace, Baluan Sholak, which will host the closing ceremony. Almaty also boasts the recently-renovated ice rink, Medeo, which will host the bandy tournament. More than 120 world records have been set at this famous site.
Recently, Kazakhs witnessed the opening ceremony of the International Trampolining Complex, and test competitions were carried out there. This arena has been a pleasant surprise to all the international experts who have come to Almaty.
Not far from Almaty, in Talgar district, another unique sports facility is close to completion - the ski and biathlon venue. A year and a half ago this area was a wasteland. Today, the builders have almost finished their work on the complex.
It is worth emphasizing Kazakhstan is greatly improving the infrastructure of its cities and that should ultimately provide an economic boost to the country.
In regards to service, foreign guests will be hosted in fine style. Any questions in this regard will be raised and answered when Astana hosts the OSCE summit, which will take place in early December. It is believed about 50 European leaders will come to Kazakhstan for the event.
Also, serious reconstruction of the capital's airport has taken place. In addition, the quality of roads has been upgraded with primary attention being paid to routes that will be used during the OSCE summit and the Asian Winter Games.
According to officials in the capital, hotels in Astana (145 in total) are ready to accommodate 7,500 visitors. This is not including elite guest houses which will be available for VIPs. The security of foreign delegations will also be given special attention.
A similar situation awaits guests in Almaty, where the hospitality industry is well established and well-known franchises have hotels.
The Head of State of Kazakhstan, Nursultan Nazarbayev, said the OSCE summit, the organization of an Islamics Conference in 2011 and hosting the Asian Winter Games were all part of a united policy to successfully integrate Kazakhstan into the world community.
(China Daily 10/23/2010 page15)