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Crowds posed no problems for police

Even though an estimated 650,000 people packed the streets of downtown Oslo during the skiing world championships during the past two weeks, police reported no major disturbances and merchants were delighted. Only one drunken brawl among some campers near the ski tracks caused any real concern.

Crowds at the skiing world championships were well-behaved and spent quite a bit of money. PHOTO: Iselin Næss/Oslo 2011

“We’re plain and simple impressed over the public at the world championships,” Johan Fredriksen of the Oslo Police District told newspaper Aftenposten. He said that around 1.5 million people in total attended the sporting competitions in the hills around Holmenkollen and the events downtown, not least the nightly medals ceremonies.

“We can only praise the public,” Fredriksen said. “Overall this has been a tremendous success.”

The only incident resulting in any violence involved a brawl at one of the many camping areas set up in the forests along the ski trails. Police were called in the middle of the night on Saturday after four or five men attacked some campers near Frognerseteren. They were arrested and had police records from before, Fredriksen told Aftenposten.

Spectators had been warned of professional pickpockets expected to be in Oslo for the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships (Ski-VM) and police said many were active. Otherwise reports of other crimes were minimal.

Oslo merchants had earlier reported a slow start to the championships, with hotels and restaurants initially disappointed by lower revenues than expected. Business picked up dramatically after the first few days, with most of it coming from Norwegians who traveled to Oslo to experience the world championships. They filled up hotel rooms and aren’t as put off by Norway’s high prices for food and drink as are foreign visitors.

A trade organization for the hotel and restaurant branch, HSH, estimated receipts tied to the world championships to total around NOK 1.5 billion, based on 300,000 visitors in Oslo. “That includes hotel revenues and everything else people spend money on, like transport, food, drink and not least shopping,” Hilde Charlotte Solheim of HSH told Aftenposten.

Tourism officials also hope for a future boost in tourism based on international publicity from the world championships. That’s uncertain, though, since news coverage of the sporting events that was extensive in Norway was reported to be minimal or even non-existent in other countries. There was hardly a mention of the world championships going on in Oslo in the UK or US media, for example.

Organizers of Ski-VM ended up with around 275,000 sold tickets, of 300,000 available, while another 300,000 persons lined the trails and experienced the championships from areas where no tickets were required. Many of them spent money, though, on everything from snacks to souvenirs.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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