Olympic leaders meet Monday to decide which cities make the cut in the race for the 2022 Winter Games. It should be an easy choice.
After a series of voter rejections and city withdrawals, only three contenders are left standing — and the future of one remains uncertain.
The International Olympic Committee executive board is expected to keep all three remaining candidates: Almaty, Kazakhstan; Beijing; and Oslo.
Also on the agenda for the three-day meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland, is an update on Rio de Janeiro's delayed preparations for the 2016 Olympics, possible venue changes for the 2020 Tokyo Games and a review of IOC President Thomas Bach's plans for the future of the Olympic movement.
Five things at play at the Olympic meetings:
WINTER OF DISCONTENT: The Ukrainian bid from Lviv dropped out of the 2022 race last week amid the continuing turmoil in the country and will focus on 2026 instead. Krakow pulled out earlier after Polish voters rejected the bid. Stockholm withdrew previously after politicians refused to give financial backing. Potential bids from Switzerland and Germany were abandoned after voters said no in referendums.
No need then for the IOC to pare the field any further. Almaty, Beijing and Oslo should be safe.
"I think the three can go through," IOC executive board member Sergei Bubka told The Associated Press. "Normally we do a short list. Maybe in this case, we don't need it."
Oslo's bid remains in limbo. The Norwegian government has yet to back the project and won't make a decision until the autumn. Polls have shown that more than half the population opposes the games. It's possible only two cities could be left in contention by the end of the year.
At this stage, Almaty, which hosted the 2011 Asian Winter Games, would appear the favorite. But plenty of things can happen before the host city is selected in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on July 31, 2015.
RIO DELAYS: The relatively smooth running of the World Cup in Brazil has alleviated some of the concerns about Rio's troubled preparations for the 2016 Games, recently described by IOC Vice President John Coates as the worst he's ever seen. Once the World Cup is over, the pressure will be back on Rio organizers. The IOC has already enacted emergency measures, including dispatching veteran administrator Gilbert Felli to work on site with local organizers.