Almaty will save more than $500 million after making several venue changes in its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Kazakh organizers said Thursday.
Bid officials said they had made the project ''more efficient'' and ''more affordable'' in line with IOC reforms aimed at giving organizers more flexibility and reducing the cost of the games.
The moves came after a visit to Almaty last month by the International Olympic Committee's evaluation commission. The changes were conveyed to the IOC by this week's deadline.
The biggest change is eliminating the planned venue at Shymbulak and Tau Park and relocating all Alpine skiing events to the existing Almatau mountain site.
Other changes include moving freestyle ski and snowboard events to the existing Ak Bulak resort, relocating Paralympic ice sledge hockey to another arena, reducing the capacity of the athletes village in Medeo from 1,000 beds to 350 beds and eliminating one of the media villages and sub press centers.
The bid committee said the changes will reduce the construction budget by more than $450 million and the operations budget by more than $100 million.
''These revisions, based on the Agenda 2020 reforms, allowed us to save over half a billion dollars while at the same time making our concept ... even more convenient, more efficient,'' Almaty bid vice chairman Andrey Kryukov said.
With the changes, Almaty said nine of the 13 needed venues already exist.
Almaty is competing against Beijing in a race that was depleted by the withdrawal of four European bidders because of financial and political concerns.
The IOC evaluation panel will visit Beijing from March 24-28. The full IOC will select the host city on July 31 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.