With Monday’s public release of their application for the Olympic Winter Games in 2022, Oslo is sending the message that they’ll organize a compact urban Games in a winter capital.
“What we would like to show to the IOC is that Oslo is the capital of Norway, and it is a winter capital,” Oslo 2022 Director Eli Grimsby told GamesBids.com.
It also doesn’t hurt that Norway, a nation of just over 5 million, finished second on the medals table in Sochi last month.
Oslo was the first bid to release preliminary documents that the International Olympic Committee (IOC) uses to score the basic requirements of bid cities and determine whether they’ll be included on a short list and eventually an electronic ballot in the final election.
The file shows that Oslo is well-prepared.
“The City of Oslo, when we started this in 2012, said we would really like to use the opportunity to see what the Olympics can do for the city development of the Eastern part of Oslo, Grimsby said.
“So we have been working quite hard with city development plans together with the Municipality of Oslo and the planning office to see where we can put the Olympic Park and the Olympic Village.”
“We have been using quite a lot of money to have a high quality of the concept plans.”
An application was required to the Department of Culture and Sports and unless the plans were already developed and of high quality, they would have been rejected.
This front-end effort and sunk costs are evident in the bid’s campaign budget. As spelled out in the documents, Oslo will spend $27 million (USD) during the application phase but that number will drop to $25 million (for a total budget of $52 million) during the later candidature phase which typically costs more due to the extensive travel and international marketing requirements.
According to the document, transport upgrades will be minimal including only construction to some venue access roads and upgrades to a metro station. Revenues are expected to reach $2.25 billion.
Of the 14 required venues, nine already exist and can be refurbished for the Games.
Most events would be held in the Oslo area, however alpine skiing and sliding events would be contested in Lillehammer, almost 2-hours away at facilities used for the 1994 Olympic Games.
“We still have some of the competence that 1994 gave us and we have been having World Cups in the years after.
“Many of the IOC members remember Lillehammer and they have good memories of Lillehammer – it was successful.”
Grimsby was quick to add that Lillehammer shouldn’t be the focus of the bid.
“We‘re going to have most of the arenas and venues here in Oslo and it is going to be both close to the nature but as well an urban Games.”
But it will be difficult to ignore Lillehammer, both the facts that it was widely viewed as a successful Games but also that it could become an isolated cluster of the Oslo Games – almost 200 km away from the city centre. With the 1952 Games in Oslo and an Olympics in Lillehammer as recently as 1994, the bid may have the additional burden of proving it deserves the Games in the same region for a third time.
With a relatively weak field for 2022, Oslo has already been positioned as a frontrunner after its most formidable rival Stockholm dropped from the race in January citing financial concerns. But if many Norwegians had their way – Oslo 2022 would suffer the same fate.
The application file tells the IOC that an autumn 2013 referendum had the bid approved by only 55% in Oslo and that a poll this past January revealed that only 36% of Norwegians backed the bid with 49% against and the balance undecided.
The text explains “opposition to a Norwegian bid is mainly on the principle that the resources should instead be devoted to other purposes in society.”
“It’s a really important issue,” Grimsby explained.
“As Norwegians, we do love winter sport and we do love the Olympics and Paralympics as well. But I think that we need to involve the people of Norway more than we have done so far.”
“We need to focus more on what is not just the arenas and the venues we are going to build but what would be the possibilities and the opportunities for the rest of the country; and how should our games sort of show what snow and ice is for us Norwegians and how to share our passion for winter sport with the rest of the world.”
Krakow, Poland has announced that they will reveal their application file on March 24; other bids have yet to comment.
Oslo is also competing against Almaty Kazakhstan, Beijing China and Lviv Ukraine – the IOC will publish an evaluation report based on the application files in July when the Executive Board announces a short list. The final election will be held July 2015 in Kuala Lumpur.