Once a prestigious honor and source of greater national pride for the host country, the winter Olympics seems to be fading in popularity as the International Olympics Committee (IOC) struggles to secure bids for the 2022 iteration of the event.
Seeking its first successful Olympic bid since 1952, Oslo remains one of only four remaining bid cities competing for the rights to host the 2022 winter Olympics.
Bidders dropping out
The 2022 bid process represents an anomaly (and, potentially, signifies a new trend) in the Olympic bidding procedure due to a wave of nations withdrawing their bids. Stockholm submitted and official bid but withdrew amidst increasing financial concerns. Krakow, Poland, Munich, Germany, and a Swiss bid for Davos and St. Moritz all pulled out of the running due to overwhelming public opposition to serve as host. This leaves a particularly small number of options as the IOC approaches a July, 2014 deadline to accept host candidates.
The bid countries
Norway joins China (Beijing), the Ukraine (Lviv), and Kazakhstan (Almaty) as one of four nations in contention to host the games. Given the turmoil in the Ukraine, the proposed site of Lviv faces an uphill battle for a successful bid. Though Beijing served as host for the 2008 summer Olympic games, both China and Kazakhstan may be unpopular host countries given their spotty track records on human rights.
This affords the Norwegian capital a prime opportunity to secure the bid if it can drum up the necessary public and political support to serve as host.
Local resistance in Oslo
The biggest hurdle to a Norwegian winter Olympics seems to be hesitancy among the city’s population of just over 600,000. The latest figures suggest that there exists a relatively low 40% support to serve as host. Further complicating matters, the Oslo bid faces declining political support to commit funding for the games.
It remains to be seen whether Norway’s Labor and Right parties can come together and build the necessary political coalition to fund the bid. The committee to bring the games to Oslo is also attempting to rally support from the nation’s youth to improve popular support for the project.
The previous bid
Another potential stumbling block to the garnering of greater national support may be lingering discontent over the withdrawn bid to host the 2018 winter games in Tromsø. The largest northern Norwegian city, Tromsø, initially beat out Trondheim and Oslo to serve as site for a Norwegian bid. However, the proposal stalled amid financial concerns and particularly low public support, and the Norwegian committee decided to withdraw the application before the official IOC bid submission deadline.
6 years later, the current Norwegian offering faces the same challenges, and one wonders if residents of the north are reluctant to support the use of national funds to host another Olympic games in a southern city. With a July 9 deadline for final bids, it remains to be seen whether Oslo will remain in the running or withdraw as so many others have done.