Parliament Bill on Lillehammer Olympics Expected Next Week
OSLO, Norway (AP) _ The Norwegian Parliament is expected this week to hand out the first gold of the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer.
The Lillehammer Olympic Organization Committee wants a $1 billion budget and is anxiously awaiting the parliament’s recommendations April 5 about a general economic agreement and arena location.
Gerhard Heiberg, the committee’s president, said last week that he was confident plans and prices would be worked out. Other committee officials said fears that the Winter Games might have be moved if quick action was not taken have evaporated like mist off the fjords.
″There is no doubt that the 1994 Winter Games will take place in Lillehammer,″ Ivar Oedegaard, the committee spokesman, said.
But Heiberg also has warned that the time for procrastination is over and that decisions must be taken to get the first Olympics on a new two-year cycle rolling.
The International Olympic Committee awarded the ’94 Winter Games to Lillehammer on a surprising vote in September 1988. Beginning in 1994, the Summer and Winter Olympics will alternate every two years, rather than both being held every four years as has been the tradition.
The Norwegian town was a darkhorse but won favor with a plan for ″compact Games″ - virtually all the events in a small area within or close to the city limits.
Some of the proposed sites have been changed and the package is not quite so compact as before. The changes have been caused by political and economic revisions which, in turn, have cast doubt over the ability of Lillehammer to host the Olympics.
Even Heiberg said in March that the deadline for arguing over what goes where and who pays for which project was rapidly approaching.
″By April 5, the location of arenas, the cost and investment guidelines and the whole organization model must be decided by parliament,″ he was quoted as telling Lillehammer business leaders and investors. ″If not, or if major Olympic decisions are delayed until next fall, the entire arrangement is at risk and we should consider dropping the Games.″
Heiberg also was quoted as saying the Games needed at least $1.06 billion. ″Otherwise, we would only have to come back and ask for more,″ he said.
Those statements may have been aimed at pressuring the government to do something before parliament recessed for the summer. If so, they may have worked.
″Signals from the parliament are positive,″ Heiberg said last week. ″There seems to be political agreement that now is the time to get going. We expect the green light to start work on several arenas but hardly all at the same time.″
Oedegaard said the committee had ″great confidence that the parliament will clarify financial frames and location of arenas in a way that also the IOC can and will accept.″
More time is needed to decide the venues for bobsled, luge and speedskating, Heiberg said.
Cheaper proposals are coming in all the time, according to Heiberg, such as one for a combined arena for speedskating, ice hockey and figure skating. Such a hall at Lillehammer could save $23 million.
The alternative is a speedskating hall 37 miles away at Hamar, plus two medium-size indoor ice hockey halls at Gjoevik (25 miles away) and Hamar and a $29 million, 10,000-seat Haakons Hall at Lillehammer for figure skating and ice hockey.
Before any commitment to Hamar, however, Heiberg wants written guarantees by June from municipal officials on contributing about $9 million to $12 million to the ice halls there.
The organizing committee wants to put the bob and luge runs nine miles north of Lillehammer at Huseskogen, a vacation area with a popular amusement park, hotels and campsites.
The alternative is much farther away - moving the bob and luge to Oslo, the national capital, 110 miles to the south.
Heiberg said the sports federations involved need more time to discuss the projects, but he added that time was running out.
″We need a final answer from the bob and luge people within three weeks and from the skating unions by June,″ he said.
Definite for the Feb. 12-27, 1994, Winter Games are:
- The men’s downhill will take place on a 5 miles long run at Kvitfjell near the village of Faavang, 28 miles north of Lillehammer. The drop is about 900 yards. Former Swiss downhill champion Berhard Russi, assigned to set the course, it ″will be one of the best and most demanding dowhill runs in the world.″
- All other alpine events will take place at Hafjell Alpine Center, nine miles north of Lillehammer.
- Nordic skiing, including cross-country and jumping events, biathlon and freestyle skiing, are assigned to Kanthaugen in the hills just above Lillehammer.
- The Olympic Stadium for opening and closing ceremonies is next to the existing ice arena Kristins Hall and the projected Haakons Hall.
- The radio and television center, the press center, the Olympic Village and Culture Center will be within the city borders.
Changes in venues and budgets have been accompanied by changes in personnel. Although Petter Roenningen has been managing director of the organizing committee since Lillehammer won the bid, other high-ranking members of the committee have been replaced.
The government feels it finally is getting a solid management team to work with. All Olympic projects will be answerable to the national government, with parliament as a control unit.
″My goal has been to get an operative, efficient and resolute decision- makin g concern board. Now it’s coming into place,″ said Kjell Borgen, who heads the parliament’s special Olympic culture committee.
The main board is made up of Heiberg, Norwegian Olympic Committee president Arne Myrvold, Lillehammer mayor Audun Tron and councellor Per H. Haga of the Ministry of Culture. Roenningen comes under them in the organizational chart.
The administration, now 60 people and by next year some 150, is split into three different companies - for general administration, construction and use of the Olympic facilities. Heiberg is chairman of all three.
Under Roenningen is a new director, Osmund Ueland, who controls four divisions - economy; marketing, logistics and technology; information; and sports, culture and medical service arrangements.
″The new organization model we announced this week is also strengthening our position,″ Oedegaard said. ″We await the Easter holidays with great confidence and optimism.″
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