Party youth also reject Oslo OL

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All but one of the youth organizations tied to Norway’s political parties with seats in Parliament oppose the City of Oslo’s bid to host the Winter Olympics in 2022. The lack of support from the country’s next generation of politicians flies in the face of promoters’ claims that a majority of Norwegian youth back the Olympic project.

Oslo officials still need to convince Oslo residents that it's a good idea to spend at least NOK 30 billion (more than USD 5 billion) to host a Winter Olympics in 2022. Here, an artist's rendition of a ski race on a downtown street. PHOTO: Oslo2022/Oslo Kommune

Norway’s next generation of young politicians doesn’t share the vision of those promoting a Winter Olympics in Oslo in 2022, despite organizers’ claims that Norwegian youth support the project. PHOTO: Oslo2022/Oslo Kommune

Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) reported Tuesday that only the Conservative Party’s youth organization, Unge Høyre, is in favour of organizing what the Norwegians call an “OL.” Unge Høye leader Kristian Tonning Riise was the only one to answer “yes” when asked, at a political debate in Arendal Monday, whether his group backed the OL bid.

All the others, from Labour’s youth organization AUF and those from the conservative Progress Party, the Liberals, the Christian Democrats, the Center Party, the Greens and the Socialist Left party, answered “no,” and made it clear that they think the OL project is simply too expensive. That reflects overall public sentiment in Norway, given the most recent public opinion poll showing that a major oppose an Oslo OL and only three out of 10 support it.

“We’re not opposed to Norway arranging an OL once or twice, but we believe that the OL being proposed now is too expensive,” said Eskil Pedersen, the high-profile leader of AUF who’s stepping down later this year. Many top Labour politicians have voiced support for an OL, as has the party’s biggest beneficiary, the trade union confederation LO. But Labour’s youth aren’t convinced.

“We don’t think the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is in line with the values and the kind of an Olympics we want,” Pedersen added. “The OL bid that’s out there now isn’t good enough.”

‘Huge source of expense’
Emil André Erstad of the Christian Democrats, one of the two small support parties for Norway’s conservative government coalition, went further: “An OL in Oslo will be a huge source of expense if we shall try to preserve the welfare state and the challenges it faces. We need to also give the IOC a clear message that we don’t want to host an event that doesn’t have regard for democratic rights and which is not a very democratic institution.”

Riise of the Conservatives’ youth group said he supported the “modest” OL bid that his party’s own minister of culture also support, not least because it’s important that a “democratic” country host an OL. The only two other bidders for the the Winter Olympics in 2022 are China and Kazakhstan.

Atle Simonsen, leader of the youth group for the Progress Party that shares government power with the Conservatives, rejected Riise’s argument. “We are crystal clear that spending between 35 and 50 billion kroner (as much as USD 8 billion) on such an OL party is too much,” Simonsen said, arguing that the Conservatives’ own culture minister has agreed to accept the IOC’s demands, meaning the OL won’t be “modest.”

Norwegian sports officials and Eli Grimsby, director of the Oslo2022 committee, have claimed repeatedly that a majority of Norwegians under the age of 30 support the OL project, according to a poll conducted in June. The near-unanimous opposition from the political parties’ own youth organizations suggests otherwise, and amounts to “the latest nail in the coffin” for the OL project, reported NRK.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund