The competition to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games heated up on Friday, as inspectors from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) arrived in the Kazakhstan candidate city of Almaty for its official inspection.

The visit is the final and biggest opportunity for Beijing's only rival for the Games to convince the IOC that it's ready to become an Olympic city. Twelve Olympic representatives will spend five days listening to presentations and visiting sites around the former Kazakh capital.

Almaty has one distinct advantage: actual snow. Although Beijing has stated repeatedly that snow events will be held in nearby Zhangjiakou, and that adequate snow can be made there to hold skiing and other events. However, snow is visible on nearby peaks from the city of Almaty - even during the summer.

Clear your calendars for February 4-20, 2022 because that's when the Games will be held, regardless of host. The dates have already caused a bit of controversy, as the sham 2022 World Cup in Qatar could be scheduled at that same time. The World Cup, normally a summer event, will be held in the winter or late autumn to avoid the sweltering heat of the Middle Eastern summer.

Interestingly, that means that the Games will fall during the Spring Festival holiday, with the traditional big bang of the first night falling on February 1 that year. Looks like a lot of people would be getting holiday pay in 2022.

Beijing's inspection will take place during the first week of March, followed by a final decision, in Kuala Lumpur, on July 31.

Photo: Almaty 2022

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