IOC member urges new Olympics bid

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Norway’s Gerhard Heiberg, best known for running the successful 1994 Winter Olympics at Lillehammer and a member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), now thinks Norway should mount another bid for the winter games in 2022 or 2026, as long as they’re located in Oslo. He hints there’s support for the idea within the IOC.

Gerhard Heiberg is planting the idea of an another Winter Olympics in Norway. PHOTO: Idrett.no

Heiberg is aware that this may cause controversy, since Norway’s national athletics association recently withdrew its bid to host a Winter Olympics in Tromsø after heated national debate.  Nevertheless, Heiberg wants to encourage the Norwegian Olympic and Paralympic Committee and Confederation of Sports (NIF) to apply to host the Olympic Winter Games.

“The FIS Nordic Ski Championships (in Oslo next month), and the wonderful arenas built at Holmenkollen mean that not a lot of new construction needs to take place,” Heiberg told newspaper Aftenposten. “What Oslo lacks is an indoor skating arena. It’s time the capital had a venue of this kind, not least with an eye to recruiting new skaters. I worry about skating; Norway is no longer among the front-runners.”

The reason Jacques Rogge and many of the other leaders in the IOC reportedly are eager to have a bid from Norway, is that Oslo is able to offer everything the IOC terms a “compact Games.” Most of the events can be staged in Oslo itself, with the exception of alpine skiing competitions at, for example, Hafjell or Norefjell, a few hours’ drive from downtown. The bobsled, skeleton and luge events could be held in the same location as 17 years ago, near Lillehammer.

For Norway, a Winter Olympics in 2022 or 2026 would be natural choices to aim for, according to Aftenposten. A decision will be made on those venues in 2015.

“Sports authorities and the Ministry of Culture need to establish an organization that can find out how much we can afford and which sports events we want to back in future,” Heiberg told Aftenposten.  Heiberg knows that Norway has made a solid impression on IOC members who want more. “Some still remember the 1952 Winter Olympics (in Oslo) and everyone remembers the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994,” Heiberg added.

To illustrate IOC’s view of Norway, it is almost enough to point to the Youth Olympics, which the IOC has exhorted Norway and Lillehammer to host in 2016. “We have been given NOK 140 million (USD 25 million) by the IOC and are waiting for the Norwegian authorities to underwrite a further NOK 173 million (USD 30 million),” Tove Paule, NIF president, told Aftenposten.  She praised the IOC for having given plenty of time to respond to the offer. By October at the latest, probably in June, NIF needs a reply from the politicians.

Paule also likes the idea of another Olympic Games in Norway and believes that Norway will sooner or later host another Olympics.

“Norway is a major winter sports nation. We are expected to make a contribution,” Tore Bøygard, biathlon president told Aftenposten.

“I have always thought that Norway should make another bid, but we have to start differently from the way we did two years ago,” Bøygard said. “NIF’s board has to decide the location and the year. The government then has to do its bit. One cannot use lots of time and money on a bid that the Government doesn’t support.” He wants the Biathlon World Championships to take place at the Holmenkollen arena in Oslo in 2016 or 2017.  “We are preparing an application now and we won’t rely on government funding,” Bøygard told Aftenposten.

Views and News from Norway/Sven Goll
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