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Thursday, May 30, 2024

Only three of 10 back an Olympics

Opposition to the City of Oslo’s bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022 continues to grow. According to the latest public opinion poll, only three out of every 10 Norwegians supports the project and there’s no majority support in any area of the country, not in Oslo either.

Only 32 percent of all Norwegians are cheering for an Olympics in Oslo. ILLUSTRATION: Oslo2022
Only 32 percent of all Norwegians are cheering for an Olympics in Oslo. ILLUSTRATION: Oslo2022

The new poll, conducted by research firm InFact for newspaper Nordlys in Tromsø, shows a 2.1 percent decline among those favouring an Olympics. The portion of those who are uncertain has increased by 10.4 percent.

Opposition continues to be strongest in Northern Norway, where 80 percent oppose committing billions of taxpayer kroner to finance a Winter Olympics in Oslo, with downhill and bobsled events back up in the Lillehammer area, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994. Only 8.9 percent of Northern Norwegians support an Olympics.

Their skepticism is share by Norwegians living along Norway’s west coast, where fully 64 percent of those polled want sports officials and politicians to drop their Olympic project that already has cost several hundred million kroner just for the planning done over the past three years. Only 20.8 percent of those polled in Hordaland and Rogaland counties back the project.

No majority in Oslo, either
In Oslo itself, which would seemingly reap the most benefits of all the new facilities that would need to be built for an Olympics, 50 percent oppose the project and 44.4 percent are favour. Not a single county in Norway registered a majority in favour of hosting the Olympics.

Even Dag Vidar Hanstad, a former sports editor at newspaper Aftenposten who now teaches at the country’s athletic college (Norges idrettshøgskole) in Oslo, had to admit that it will be very difficult for politicians to agree to host the Winter Olympics when barely 32 percent of Norwegians favour it. Hanstad is among the sports bureaucrats and business and some labour officials who back the project, but admitted to state broadcaster on Friday that backers “have a major job” to convince the public and their elected representatives that it’s a good idea to put up the state financial guarantee necessary to host what the Norwegians call “OL.” Olympic organizers have estimated the cost at around NOK 35 billion (USD 6 billion) but every Olympics held over the past 40 years has cost at least double if not quadruple its initial budget, including the OL at Lillehammer. Many simply don’t feel it’s worth the expense any longer.

Politicians split
Supporters continue to claim that since Norway is such a winter sports nation, it’s obligated to host another Winter Olympics. Norway has already hosted two Olympics, though, and other much bigger winter sports nations such as Switzerland, Germany and Sweden clearly don’t share any sense of obligation, since they’re already dropped out of the running because of the expense involved.

Norway’s own conservative government is split on the issue, with Finance Minister Siv Jensen of the Progress Party firmly opposed and the minister in charge of culture and sports, Thorhild Widvey of the Conservatives, in favour. Prime Minister Erna Solberg may listen to her constituents in western Norway who oppose the project. The government is otherwise expected to send the proposal over to the Parliament for a vote this fall. Berglund



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