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Blackout fears for Winter Games
Kazakh host city for Asian Winter Games quotes mammoth bill for electricity upgrade.
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2009 10:17 GMT

Earthmovers get to work in Almaty [GALLO/GETTY]
The mayor of the Kazakh city hosting the 2011 Asian Winter Games says more than half a billion dollars must be spent to get the outdated electricity network ready for the competition.

The enormous cost stated by Almaty Mayor Akhmetzhan Yesimov appeared to be in addition to the more than $1billion estimate previously made for upgrading sports venues and other infrastructure for the games.

Spiralling costs for the tournament could take a heavy toll on the Central Asian nation, which is in the throes of a severe economic downturn caused by a faltering banking system and falling global demand for its oil exports.

Shortcoming

"There is a notable shortcoming in Almaty's power generation complex," Yesimov said on Monday.

"We require 86 billion tenge ($570million) for the completion of seven energy projects."

Almaty is rebuilding its Medeu ice skating stadium and the Shymbulak ski resort in preparation for the games.

City authorities say Shymbulak should become one of the world's 10 largest ski resorts by 2015.

The Asian Winter Games will be jointly held in the capital, Astana, a flat and wind-swept city located 1,000km from Almaty.

Olympic bid

The former Soviet state hopes its success in organising the Asian Winter Games could help it mount a successful bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

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Almaty previously bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics but failed to make the shortlist.

The 2014 Games will be held in Sochi, Russia.

News of the blowout in staging the next Winter Asian Games follows reports in Chinese state media that potential sponsors were turning their backs on the 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, with just two-thirds of the expected 2 billion yuan ($292million) pledged so far.

Organisers are facing "some difficulties developing stadiums and finding sponsors," the China Daily newspaper quoted Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning as saying.

A sharp drop in exports has battered companies operating in surrounding Guangdong province, the powerhouse of China's trade-led growth for the past three decades.

Source:
Agencies
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