Oslo said ‘yes’ to Olympics after all

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A major mobilization by sports stars and bureaucrats, tourism and business interests and local athletics organizations was getting the credit (or blame) on Tuesday for managing to turn the tide of public opinion against hosting the Winter Olympics in Oslo in 2022. Polls this summer had indicated that nearly 60 percent of Oslo residents opposed hosting an Olympics, but city election officials could report a majority in favour of the project on Tuesday morning.

Oslo city officials now have a green light to move forward with their plans to bid for the Winter Olympics in 2022. They see the project as a catalyst for redevelopment of Oslo's east side, like here in Groruddalen. ILLUSTRATION: Snøhetta/Cowi/MIR

Oslo city officials now have a green light to move forward with their plans to bid for the Winter Olympics in 2022. They see the project as a catalyst for redevelopment of Oslo’s east side, like here in Groruddalen. ILLUSTRATION: Snøhetta/Cowi/MIR

When results of a referendum on the controversial issue were finally tallied after a bout of technical trouble during the night, the city reported that 172,837 voted “yes” to the single question of whether the City of Oslo should apply to host what Norwegians call “Vinter OL” in 2022. Another 140,982 voted “no” while 9,519 voted “blank.” That can mean that they had no opinion on the matter but wanted to take part in the referendum, a form of political consultation seldom used in Norway. Some view “blank” votes as a form of protest as well.

The total number of persons voting (323,338) also represents a majority of Oslo’s population. The vast majority of individual precincts reporting also showed “yes” votes beating out the “no” votes with a few curious exceptions, like the Jordal precinct (near the site of an old ice rink used in the Olympics in 1952 and likely to be rebuilt for a Winter Games in 2022) and the Ullevål precinct (located near the site of Norway’s national football stadium and the headquarters of national sports organizations). Other precincts voting against the OL project were mostly inner-city, but also included Marienlyst, home of the headquarters for Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK), which would be heavily involved in an Olympics.

For detailed OL voting results compiled by city election officials, click here (external link, mostly in Norwegian).

The powerful sports officials who campaigned hard for the OL project were predictably pleased by the results, while those worried about its enormous costs were disappointed. Bjørnar Moxnes of the Reds party, who was among the most active opponents, noted that public sentiment changed dramatically in the final days of the campaign, with so many now supporting a project that’s expected to cost at least NOK 34 billion, given the size of the financial guarantee sought from the state.

“There’s been a massive campaign from the ‘yes’ side during the past two weeks,” Moxnes told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “They’ve been backed by the athletics federation, celebrities and public relations firms. I would have been surprised if all that hadn’t had any effect.”

State will ultimately decide
The fate of any final Olympic bid, though, is up to the state government since it needs to guarantee financing. Public sentiment nationwide has been opposed and Siv Jensen, the leader of the Progress Party who may become Norway’s next finance minister, has already said she voted against the project in the Oslo referendum.

The city officials planning the event will nonetheless continue their efforts for now, and must officially report their interest in hosting an Olympics to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by November 14. A formal application is due by March 14, and the Parliament must approve a financial guarantee by January 2015.

The IOC will announce the venue for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralymics on July 31, 2015.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund

  • Ade Larsen

    Can we beat 1994 ?
    What a show that was !
    Norway – the home of skiing.

    • crazyassmofo

      What a waste of money.
      Oslo could be updated and improved just fine for a fraction of the cost without having to attach an inanity such as this onto it.

  • Robert Cumming

    Go on you Oslo, hopefully this will spur on the development of many facilities that are needed and fix much of the infrastructure that has been neglected for decades.

    • Ade Larsen

      Dear Robert,
      What infrastructure in and around Oslo has been neglected for decades ? (besides the road system in and out of Oslo).

      What facilities need to be developed ?

      Norway is a decentralised state. Oslo is only an admin centre. Everything else is made / produced elsewhere (the beauty of the system of decentralisation).

      One could classify this argument in the same context as the Merging of Kommune’s. When you centralise everything from The Vote, to the money, the power and from the infrastructure to the facilities you end up with a fractured unbalanced state where those in out lying areas lose a great deal and those in the centre of major towns / cities gain a lot.
      This leads to dysfunction, angst and separation.
      When you merge kommune’s and even bigger areas you cause a rift in the social fabric by disconnecting people from their “local” voice they once had.

      Merging kommune’s and putting too much infrastructure into Oslo ruins the decentralisation model and therefore disconnects portions of the community that should remain cohesive and together for the sake of future well-being. (Not everyone lives in Oslo – not everyone wants to either).

      Everything needs to be updated and upgraded, But at what cost to the social fabric ?

      I hope Oslo wins the 2022 Winer OL. I also hope that in 2022 I can still meet my neighbour at the corner store for a chat whilst we purchase our locally produced milk, meat and potatos. I also want to be able to still have contact with my local kommune representatives who live in my little local area.

      There’s nothing like local-knowledge.

      Yours Sincerely

      Ade Larsen

      • Robert Cumming

        Besides the will it be working today rail network, crappy sporting facilities and of course you’ve already mentioned the roads, Oslo’s infrastructure could do with some money being spent on it.

        • Robert Neve

          I agree but I fear like all the other games and sporting events Oslo has hosted recently it just won’t happen. They will put on buses and will invest in temp fixes or tourist related infrastructure and the commuters issues will be ignored again.