After months of holding on despite lack of public support, Oslo’s bid to host the 2022 Olympic Winter Games was finally crushed Wednesday after Norway’s majority Conservative party failed to support the bid through a parliamentary vote. A final decision on the bid’s fate was expected next month, but today the Oslo municipality withdrew its funding, sending a knockout blow.
The bid had been accepted along with Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Executive Board in July – but only the latter two will remain on the ballot for the July 31 election in Kuala Lumpur.
The IOC had been trying to bolster Oslo’s chances for survival over the past few days by making concessions in the bid rules that would help control costs. Yesterday, a press release revealed that the IOC would provide $880 million (USD) to the winning city to help organize the Games. This was all apparently too little, too late for the Oslo bid as as many as one in three Norewgians already opposed hosting the Games.
At July’s IOC Executive Meeting, President Thomas Bach admitted that his organization has failed to communicate effectively regarding the costs and benenfits of bidding for the Olympic Games and that has resulted in less bid applications.
Since the beginning of the campaign Stockholm, Sweden; Lviv, Ukraine and Krakow, Poland have abandoned bids due to various concerns and Munich withheld its application after the city lost a referendum just days before the submission deadline.
Things began to spin out of control after it was revealed Russia spent $51 billion to host the Sochi 2014 Games though a large portion of that cost can be attributed to major infrastructure projects to build out two cities. The actual cost of organizing the Games themselves was closer to $2.2 billion.
In December, the IOC will meet in Monaco to review “Agenda 2020”, a set of reforms that will help evolve the IOC. At the top of the list are proposed changes to the bidding process.
The remaining candidates are generally considered weak. Beijing controversially hosted the Summer edition of the Games in 2008 and plans to reuse some of the city venues for the 2022 Games; but the snow venues are considered too distant in the mountains. Almaty in Kazakhstan does not have a well-developed winter sport culture and four years ago was dropped from the 2018 bid shortlist for not measuring up.
The last time there were only two cities on an Olympic bid ballot was in 1999 when Turin, Italy defeated Sion, Switzerland 53 to 36 to host the 2006 Winter Games. However, that was during the fallout of the Salt Lake City vote buying scandal when the Executive Board reduced the list that had been comprised of six cities in order to avoid risk.