Technical problems were said to be behind a delay in final compilation of votes in an Oslo referendum over whether the city should apply to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. Before the counting was interrupted, the “no” side was running slightly ahead of those in favour.
Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported that 49 percent of those voting (57,577) oppose hosting an Olympics while 48 percent were favour (56,506). The remainder voted “blank,” meaning they crossed off a box indicating they had no opinion.
But then the athletic boosters who’ve campaigned vigorously to move forward with Oslo’s “Games in the City” project were told by Oslo Mayor Fabian Stang that the results wouldn’t be available until Tuesday morning. “He recommended we go home and get some sleep,” Inge Andersen, secretary general of the national athletics federation, told NRK. “I hope I wake up to a ‘yes’ vote.”
Andersen and other Olympic boosters claimed they were pleased with the preliminary results because public opinion polls had indicated much larger opposition to the Olympic project. Its huge costs are the biggest worry, with budgets ranging from NOK 20 million to nearly NOK 50 billion and fears of overruns like those on earlier city-managed sports projects.
The city already has spent millions just for the planning carried out so far. It’s ultimately up to the state government to decide whether to support an Olympics because it must put up financial guarantees. Opponents of an Olympics argue that the costs are too high and will force cuts in other more important city projects. Promoters point to the economic and community development an Olympics could bring.