New Olympic bid called ‘tragicomic’

Heads were shaking in Norway after state broadcaster NRK reported how officials in the inland county of Telemark were planning to mount a new bid to host a Winter Olympics, preferably in 2026. Jacob Lund, who headed sponsorships for Norway’s largest bank for more than 20 years, was among those dismissing the effort, adding that it would cost more than NOK 60 billion (USD 7.5 billion).

Oslo tried but failed to mount a Winter Olympics for 2022, after huge costs and a lack of public support doomed the effort. Now the inland county of Telemark is trying again, but skeptics abound. ILLUSTRATION: Oslo2022/Snøhetta Oslo AS

“It’s tragicomic that Telemark can even think that it’s possible to mount such an arrangement, even in cooperation with (the bordering counties of) Vestfold and Buskerud,” Lund told NRK.

Lund stressed how the sheer amounts of money now required to host an Olympics make costs all but prohibitive even in a wealthy country like Norway. In Telemark, all facilities would also have to be built from scratch, since there are none that could be modified or expanded. Oslo, which mounted a hugely controversial bid for the 2022 Olympics a few years ago, could at least have used some of its existing winter sports infrastructure but even then, the bid failed to win either public or national political support.

Few prospects for later use of facilities

Lund also raised questions about how any such Olympic facilities in Telemark would be used when an Olympics was over. That’s been a huge problem in many Olympic venues, both summer and winter, when the need for the costly infrastructure disappears, and maintenance costs are high.

“Who would use the ski jumps needed?” Lund asked. “Hardly any youth take up ski jumping these days.” He also can’t find future markets for all the arenas that would be needed for an Olympics either, in an area with inadequate transport infrastructure to handle crowds.

Norway’s government minister in charge of sports and culture, Linda Hofstad Helleland, has already has been highly critical of how Norwegian sports bureaucrats handle their finances. The conservative government in which she serves ended Oslo politicians’ and sports officials’ dream of hosting another Olympics when they refused to issue the state finance guarantee needed. Helleland has also made it clear that any new Olympic bid would have to obtain firm support from all national sports organizations.

‘Nonsense’

Tom Tvedt, who has been at odds with Helleland , merely smiled when NRK interviewed him about Telemark officials’ Olympic bid. He stated that “all positive initiative” is welcome, but noted that “several regions” have expressed some interest a new Olympics, not just Telemark. “What we’re doing now is to register this interest, and then have dialogue with the authorities,” Tvedt told NRK.

The leader of Telemark’s sports organization, Geir Berge Nordtveit, was unveiling more information about a potential Olympic bid on Tuesday. Few if any other areas in Europe have been willing or able to host another Olympics, because of costs and the lack of public support.

Lund’s conclusion on an Olympics in Telemark: “This is just nonsense.”

Read also more news of Oslo here.

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