The leaders of both Norway’s largest employer and union groups, the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (Næringslivets Hovedorganisasjon, NHO) and the Confederation of Trade Unions (Landsorganisasjonen i Norge, LO), have thrown their support behind Oslo’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. While neither organization has an official stance on the hosting bid, both leaders said the event would be a boon for Norway.
LO head Gerd Kristiansen was the first to wade into the contentious Olympic debate, after long refusing to reveal her position, reported newspaper VG on Tuesday. She stressed opinions were split within LO over the Olympics, and the organization was not going to get involved. “That said, I will personally add that I think world sport will benefit from an Olympics in Oslo,” Kristiansen said. “I think Oslo and Norway is one of the few places in the world that can manage to bring the Olympic Games back down to a level that is acceptable.”
She referred to the cost blow-outs of this year’s Sochi Olympics, criticisms of the Olympic committee’s unreasonable demands and allegations the Olympics had become a cash cow for political abuse. “If we apply and get the yes, we will largely be able to make it a Norwegian Olympics, on our premises,” said Kristiansen. “It means that we will get an Olympics within justifiable cost limits and an Olympics that Norway can profit from: we get to build infrastructure and facilities that we need and that the Olympics will help us get.”
The estimated cost of an Oslo Olympics was NOK 35.2 billion (USD 5.7 billion), including implementation costs and facility investments of NOK 14.7 billion each.
On Wednesday, NHO leader Kristin Skogen Lund said her organization had not taken a stance either, but she personally thought a Winter Olympics would be great for the economy. “Norway is an avid participant in the Winter Olympics, and it is not unreasonable that we can also arrange it,” she told Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK). “But we must set the requirements and take responsibility to get the Olympics on the right track.”
She said it was important to involve all of Norway, not just Oslo, and that the Olympics should not come at the expense of important priorities like health and transport. “Yes, it is a lot of money,” Lund said. “But now Norway has a relatively good evonomy, and we know that with the population growth we have, we must make necessary investments. This could be very positive for the building industry, the retail trade industry and travel industry, in addition to being a good advertisement for Norway.”