The Youth Olympics held in Lillehammer last week closed on Sunday, and was widely viewed as a big success. That’s prompted some sports fans to rekindle hopes for another full-scale Winter Olympics, while others seem intent on blowing out any new flame.
Even before the Olympic flame was extinguished Sunday evening, the Norwegian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Gerhard Heiberg was already voicing support for repeating the success of the Winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994. They were famously branded as “the best ever,” and Heiberg claimed in local media that the success of last week’s Youth Olympic Games proved that Lillehammer is the best venue within Norway.
IOC President Thomas Bach, who was in Lillehammer to oversee the Youth Olympics, was immediately encouraged and told state broadcaster that while a decision on hosting another Olympics is “up to the Norwegians,” he would welcome a bid.
Heiberg also tried to drum up support for another Norwegian Olympic bid for the 2022 Winter Games just as Oslo was hosting the Nordic World Championships in 2011. Norwegian sports bureaucrats quickly latched on and it went as far as gaining enough local political support that millions were spent just on the preliminaries. It all fell flat, however, because of fears over the sheer expense of a modern-day Olympic extravaganza. Heiberg hasn’t given up, but several media commentators seem keen to stop him in his tracks.
“There’s no hurry to start a new debate about a new Winter Olympics in Norway,” Reidar Sollie wrote in newspaper Dagsavisen. “The sores after the last round haven’t healed yet.” He also cautioned against comparing the Youth Olympics to a regular Olympics and mused over why they were so popular. Perhaps there was a need, he wrote, to see an Olympics with mostly volunteers, a non-commercial spirit, no extravagant products and no accusations about corruption or doping. “It’s a long time since we’ve had that,” Sollie wrote.