2022 Games vote tops agenda as International Olympic Committee meetings begin in Malaysia

The International Olympic Committee executive board meetings have begun, setting the stage for Friday's vote to decide which city will host the 2022 Winter Games.

The choice between Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan is the centerpiece of the weeklong meetings in the Malaysian capital.

The executive board and later the full IOC membership will also receive status updates on preparations for next year's Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, and the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Rio has been beset by concerns over its polluted waterways, including the venues for the sailing and rowing events. Tokyo last week scrapped the original design of a new Olympic main stadium because of soaring costs which reached $2 billion. Construction was supposed to begin in October, but will now not begin until early next year.

As the 15 members of the IOC's executive board began meeting Tuesday, they discovered that Boston had dropped out of the bidding for the 2024 Olympics.

Beset by poor communication, low public support and an active opposition group, the U.S. Olympic Committee decided to cut ties with the east coast city. With a Sept. 15 deadline for official submission of candidates, the USOC could turn to Los Angeles as a new bidder.

"We were all excited when (Boston) was announced, but it seems to have stumbled since," IOC vice president John Coates, a key player in the organization of the Sydney 2000 Olympics, told The Associated Press on the way into Tuesday's meeting. "But it's better to face up to these things early if you don't have full public support."

The executive board was expected to consider, among other items on the agenda, whether to give recognition to South Sudan.

South Sudan, which split from Sudan and became independent in 2011, could be formally approved by the full IOC session beginning Friday. It would become the 206th country — the latest after Kosovo — to gain Olympic recognition. This would allow South Sudan to send a team to Rio next year.

At the 2012 London Olympics, South Sudanese marathon runner Guor Marial competed as an independent athlete under the IOC flag.

On Friday, representatives from Almaty and Beijing will make final presentations to the IOC before the vote. If Beijing wins, the Chinese capital would become the first city to host both a Winter and Summer Games.

Also Friday, either Brasov, Romania or Lausanne, Switzerland will be chosen host city of the 2020 Winter Youth Olympics.

Local media, meanwhile, reported that the president of the Olympic Council of Malaysia, Prince Tunku Imran, said he had discussed with his Singaporean counterparts the possibility of the two countries submitting a joint bid for the 2028 or 2032 Olympics.