Norwegian sports officials congratulated their counterparts in Beijing after the Chinese capital was named to host the Winter Olympics in 2022, but there there was little enthusiasm among athletes and sports fans. The lack of snow and any strong winter sports culture in Beijing raised questions, as did China’s poor track record on human rights.
Beijing’s only rival bidder was Almaty in Kazakhstan, which also has raised concerns over corruption and human rights. Mounting an Olympics has become so expensive, however, that all the other initial contenders including Oslo had dropped out.
Oslo had been favoured to win the bidding, but city officials withdrew their preliminary application because of public opposition and a lack of political support.
“We’ll just have to hope that Beijing will mount a proper Olympics and not follow in the footsteps of Sochi,” skater Ida Njåtun told newspaper Aftenposten. Sochi was the most expensive Olympics of all time, while Beijing organizers will need to host most events on artificial snow.
Tom Tvedt, president of Norway’s athletics organization, said he was glad that Norwegian athletes are concerned with human rights issues but the most important issue for him was to make sure Norway performs well in Beijing. “We’ll work towards being the best nation at the Olympics in 2022,” he said.