Few Kazakhstanis were surprised when a top organizer of the 2011 Asian Winter Games, the biggest sporting spectacle the country has ever held, was jailed last October. Aidar Musin was found guilty of using $3 million in state funds earmarked for the event to buy himself luxury cars and prime real estate.
With Kazakhstan now bidding to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, local transparency activists fear that one of the world’s biggest-name sporting events would again prove a bonanza for sticky-fingered officials.
The International Olympic Committee Evaluation Commission visited Almaty from February 14-18 to assess the city’s 2022 bid. Under new IOC rules introduced in December, known as the Olympic Agenda 2020, potential host cities must now keep costs under control, ensure sustainability, and leave a lasting legacy for future generations. But there are no specific guidelines for combating fraud.
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Paul Bartlett is an Almaty-based freelance writer.