Almaty might be seen as the underdog against Beijing in the bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics but Sergey Bubka believes the Kazakhstanis are getting close to their Chinese rivals.
The candidate cities made their presentations to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne on Tuesday (9 June) and, as members studied details of the proposals on Wednesday, Bubka said both had their attractions.
The Ukrainian IOC member, who won a pole vault Olympic gold, six consecutive world championships and set 35 world records, said: "If we look at Almaty, everything is very compact -- more than 70% facilities [are] already in place. The budget of both is very low.
"Beijing hosted successful Summer Olympics. Now, for 2022, they will use many facilities from the Games 2008 and also the legacy will remain. Of course, there are more people speaking that it's like 'Beijing is leading' but, from yesterday, Almaty is catching. Let's wait and see.
"Both concepts are very interesting. How will they develop over the next one and half months? Honestly I feel this is just the beginning of the campaign."
IOC vice-president Craig Reedie was also impressed by arguments from both sides.
"My guess is that members thought Almaty did rather better than they expected them to, and I think they were really impressed by the professionalism and the certainty the Beijing offered. You have to make up your mind," said Reedie.
The IOC were hit with four withdrawals from the bidding process for 2022 when Oslo, Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv dropped out in the wake of the Sochi games in 2014 which cost $51bn (£33bn) to stage.
"The IOC has had some difficulty with this Winter campaign, because we lost four cities that wanted to bid," added Reedie.
"I think after yesterday, most members of the IOC are really happy that at the end of the process we've got two very good bids."
The IOC decision will be announced next month.