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Why Norway rejected Olympic bid

SHERRYLYN CLARKE, [email protected]

Why Norway rejected Olympic bid

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STAVANGER, Norway (AP) – Norway’s ruling conservative party didn’t reject a government financial guarantee for the Oslo 2022 Winter Olympics bid lightly.

But fears about spiralling costs and dissatisfaction at the perceived high handedness of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), sparked anger in this fiercely egalitarian nation, making it impossible for lawmakers to back the bid.

That vote on Wednesday killed Norway’s bid and narrowed the list of potential 2022 Winter Olympic hosts to Beijing and Almaty in Kazakhstan.

On the morning of the vote, the country’s largest national daily newspaper, VG, printed demands the IOC would make to Oslo as host, including IOC members enjoying a cocktail reception with the King and having special lanes for Olympic traffic.

Conservative lawmaker Geir Inge Sivertsen publicly came out against the Oslo bid days before the vote, but said there was no doubt that the latest “very strange demands from the IOC” swayed the party, which he thinks had been narrowly in favour of underwriting the bid.

“Norway is a rich country, but we don’t want to spend money on wrong things, like satisfying the crazy demands from IOC apparatchiks,” said Frithjof Jacobsen, VG’s chief political commentator. “These insane demands that they should be treated like the king of Saudi Arabia just won’t fly with the Norwegian public.”

IOC spokesman Mark Adams blamed the Norwegian media of misreporting the situation.

“The documents have been widely and often deliberately misreported,” Adams said in an email to The Associated Press on Saturday. “Even a cursory glance would show they contain suggestions and guidance, not demands. These were gathered from previous games organisers and are advice on how to improve the games experience for all.”

IOC President Thomas Bach also accused the reporting of being overblown and claimed the decision not to back the bid was a purely “political” decision by a party in a minority government.

“I do not want to criticise the press, but it is very difficult how you make out of the fact that since 1896 every head of state was opening the Olympic Games according to the Olympic Charter,” Bach told The AP. “How you can make out of this fact a request for a cocktail party? This is really not easy to understand.”

The IOC’s 7 000-page manual on running the games does say that a pre-Olympic gathering for IOC members should include a meeting with the head of state, and insists upon a strict protocol for the order in which he should greet his guests and seating in the stadium.