An International Olympic Committee (IOC) panel has begun a five-day visit to Almaty to assess the Kazakh city's bid for the 2022 Winter Games.
The evaluation commission, chaired by Russian Alexander Zhukov, is to begin its work on February 14, visiting the proposed sports venues and meeting with bid and government leaders to discuss their plans.
Almaty, Kazakhstan's largest city, is competing against Beijing, which the IOC panel will visit from March 24-28.
The city has sought to set itself apart by offering true winter conditions and plenty of real, not artificial, snow.
Kazakhstan claims to have the most compact bid in 30 years, with all venues within a 30-kilometer radius of the Olympic Village.
Almaty has a projected organizing committee budget of nearly $2 billion and infrastructure budget of $1.6 billion.
Based on reporting by AP and Xinhua