Norway’s ruling party just voted against funding Oslo’s 2022 Winter Olympics bid, essentially forcing the city to drop out of the race. It’s just the latest in a long series of cities and countries who have given an emphatic “no” to hosting the Olympic quagmire…
In a non-binding referendum in February, 55.9 percent of Norwegians said they didn’t want the Games. “There must be major changes in the IOC before I can help to support an Olympic application,” said Tromsø Mayor Jens Johan Hjort.
Stoking some of that anger was the IOC’s list of demands for an Oslo bid, which included a cocktail reception with Norway’s king, with the tab on either the royal family or the Norwegian Olympic Committee. Among the IOC’s other demands:
- Cars and drivers for IOC members, with special dedicated highway lanes
- Street lights synchronized to prioritize IOC traffic
- Separate airport entrance for IOC members
- Hotel mini-bars must have only Coca-Cola products
- Samsung phones for all IOC members
- All meeting rooms must be kept at exactly 68 degrees.
- All furniture must have “Olympic appearance.”
- “IOC members will be received with a smile on arrival at hotel”
Oslo joins a decorated list of municipalities that have declined to pursue Olympic bids, or dropped out of the running after residents voted against it. Invariably, each blamed the rising cost and invisible benefits of hosting the Olympics. Among those who withdrew are Krakow, Poland; Stockholm, Sweden; Munich, Germany; Davos/St. Moritz, Switzerland; and Lviv, Ukraine, which dropped out just before the IOC selected three finalists (the only three cities remaining).
Only two cities are left and there are still 9 months or so until the vote is taken. Whatever prestige, coverage, and extra visitors that the Winter Olympics bring is apparently not enough to outweigh all of the costs. It appears at least some cities have learned about the costs of paying for sporting events and whether they pay off for the community.