Bach visits Norway as Oslo 2022 bid in doubt
STAVANGER, Norway (AP) — IOC President Thomas Bach arrived in Norway on Monday amid growing local opposition to Oslo’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.
Bach’s visit came as part of a planned tour of the Scandinavian country’s facilities for the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics and includes meetings with politicians, sports leaders and lawmakers. He was also received by Norway’s King Harald.
Earlier this month, the junior partner in the ruling coalition voted against any government support for the bid, a move that likely puts the city out of the race. The Progress Party objects to Norway hosting the games, saying it would hamper the government’s ability to fund infrastructure projects, education, health care and tax cuts.
The Oslo bid has been plagued by Norwegian fears of spiraling costs after the 2014 Sochi Games, but Bach attempted to ease concerns claiming criticism of the Russian event was far off the mark.
“People are sitting with a false impression that the Olympics cost more and more, especially in connection with Sochi, and it is wrong,” Bach told reporters in Oslo. “Sochi cost no more than Vancouver, and the event was actually in surplus at the end.”
The secretary general of Norway’s Olympic Committee, Inge Andersen, has urged Parliament to recognize the central role of winter sports in Norwegian society and to “trust” the national and international committees to make Oslo’s bid work.
Bach’s visit was seen as a chance for him to drum up support for the bid in a country which has a long history of hosting winter sports, with top athletes, good venues and enthusiastic audiences.
But at a news conference in the Norwegian capital, the German denied he was being partial to any one bid.
“We cannot enter into the discussions into the bid or give advice to a bid,” he said. “We will respect this procedure. And we are happy that all our partners respect this as well.”