Wednesday, May 18

In a few weeks we could have had the Olympics here. Should we be happy that nothing happened?

Oslo could have had the ungrateful challenge that China and Beijing are going through now.

This is a story about something like could have been. There are many such, but the Olympics in Oslo 2022 were much more than big dreams, expensive groundwork and time-consuming analyzes. It was close, as it is called in the language of sports.

– If Norway had wanted the toys, we would have got them, says Børre Rognlien. He was Norway’s sports president from 2011 to 2015, and close to the more than two-year-long process that ultimately ended in trouble for the Olympic fans.

– All the signals we received from the IOC were that they were very excited that we applied, and just as excited about the application itself. They were ready for a completely open dialogue with us, as they were in the whole process for the Youth Olympics in Lillehammer in 2016, says Rognlien.

An anticlimax

The Olympic Games in China open on Friday 4 February. City after city withdrew from the battle to become hosts, and eventually it was between Beijing and Almaty in Kazakhstan.

If the Olympics in Oslo had become a reality, the fire would have been lit on Saturday 12 February. For a few weeks, a legendary winter resort like Holmenkollen would have been on the TV screens of those interested in skiing across the globe. But there is very little that has anything to do with the Olympics now.

Philip Kvamme (left), Astrid Kvamme and dad Fredrik Kvamme visited Holmenkollen on Sunday. There the sun shone even though it was gray in the center. – We have dreamed of an Olympics, and would like to have a Lillehammer Olympics. But the Olympic circus may have grown too big for Norway, says Fredrik Kvamme.

The capital has little snow, a lot of corona infection and rules for events that make the word folk festival end up far behind in the queue of descriptions you want to use. It had not become completely empty. In the Norwegian Directorate of Health’s new rules, it is after all allowed to have up to 200 people without permanent, allocated places and up to 3,000 people with permanent, allocated places outdoors. In addition, it had become difficult to stop the migration that always takes place from Nordmarka and towards the trail network around Holmenkollen.

But still the big question is: Should Norway only be happy that the Conservative parliamentary group parked the idea of ​​the Oslo Olympics 2022 at a meeting on 1 October 2014?

– The Olympics, all the preparations, the money, the expectations, everything would have been different with the corona. It would have been an anticlimax, says Oslo City Councilor Raymond Johansen (Labor). He points out that they would have managed to carry out the exercises, but that it had not been a folk festival as the Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994 were.

– Do you think Norway had postponed the games for a year, as Japan did with the Tokyo Olympics in 2020?

– No, I do not think so, says Raymond Johansen.

Right + Labor Party = Olympics?

Børre Rognlien disagrees. He thinks a postponement would have forced itself, because a Winter Olympics in Norway without being able to invite to a folk festival would “have been meaningless”. He believes the nation missed out on a golden opportunity.

– Think of all the facilities we had built up. Think of all the young people who had been teased in arranging something so big, and of all the volunteers who had contributed. Many talked about that we could not afford. For fun, I checked the Petroleum Fund’s return for 2014: NOK 544 billion. The Olympics had been paid for in 14 days, the former sports president states.

Why did it go wrong when so many wanted the Winter Games? That Northern Norway and Tromsø’s Olympic flirtation before 2014 and 2018 was strongly opposed elsewhere in the country, probably came into play. A “north to south” atmosphere developed.

Nevertheless, when sport had an extraordinary thing in the summer of 2012, 90 percent of the delegates agreed to work for Oslo as an applicant city. The City Council of Oslo said yes. There was even a majority in favor when the residents of the capital voted on the matter in connection with the parliamentary elections in 2013. The work with the state guarantee, which was presented before Christmas the same year, was praised. Gross government guarantee was estimated at NOK 35 billion, net 21.7.

– In 2013, Norway got a Minister of Finance (Siv Jensen, Frp) who was declared an opponent of the Olympics. It was a crossroads. In addition, the criticism of the IOC was great in February 2014, says Rognlien, and thinks of the “mourning ribbon case”, where the International Olympic Committee reprimanded Marit Bjørgen and the Norwegian skiers for wearing mourning ribbons after the death of Astrid Uhrenholdt Jacobsen’s brother.

On the same day as the Conservative parliamentary group decided, VG had the following front-page notice: “Here are the conditions of the Olympic greats: Demand free drinks from the King”.

VG’s front page 1 October 2014.

– The IOC never made any demands on us. And we would never have accepted such a demand and sent it on to the Palace. It is absurd to believe that, says Børre Rognlien. He turns 77 in 2022, and does not think he will experience an Olympics on Norwegian soil in his lifetime.

– The Labor Party and the Conservatives must agree. They need to talk to each other. Only then can we submit a good application, he says.

The riddle of Beijing

The Conservative parliamentary group was divided roughly in the middle when it considered the Olympic issue in October 2014. After a very long meeting, parliamentary leader Trond Helleland came out in the walking hall and said that the party did not recommend the government to proceed with the application.

– Many wanted to tighten the costs, do something with the tax requirements of the IOC and the pampering factor that was around the Olympics, he said.

Eli Grimsby was director of the Olympic Agency in Oslo municipality. She was very unprepared for the Conservatives’ no. Grimsby remembers that she was sitting in a NRK studio to discuss the Olympics when the news came out.

– Our staff had booked a table to celebrate with pizza and a couple of units. We kept the table. The need to meet and comfort each other was great, says Grimsby.

– As the situation is now: Should Oslo just be happy that nothing happened?

– First and foremost, I sympathize with all those who have worked hard for many years with the planning and facilitation of the Beijing Olympics. I hope it will be as good as possible with the framework that is now, she says.

There is not much room to operate in. “The Beijing Olympics must be the saddest Olympic Games of all time. That large winter sports nations have not asked to postpone the games, as they did in the end with the Summer Olympics in Tokyo, is a mystery “, writes sports blogger Andreas Selliaas on the website

A worker in full protective gear inside the press center in Beijing.

Tests become as natural a part of everyday life as sports jubilation and grief during the Olympics.

The Olympic flame on the Great Wall of China.

also read

Aftenposten commentator Daniel Røed Johansen on the Beijing Olympics: “Athletes are strangled”

Ordinary tickets to the competitions will not be sold. The infection regime and isolation rules can scare even the most adventurous. Everyone who is going to have anything to do with the Olympics – athletes, leaders, journalists and workers – must live in so-called “bubbles” while the games are going on.

What now, Norway?

As long as there is a snowflake or a ski trail left in Norway, there will always be someone playing with new Olympic plans. Mina Gerhardsen, Secretary General of the National Association for Public Health, leads an Olympic committee set up by the Norwegian Sports Confederation in November last year. The results of the group’s exploration work will be presented in May this year.

Finally, the city fog also found its way up to Holmenkollen on Sunday. Here from the ski jump, one of Norway’s most famous landmarks.

– The assignment is to follow up the Sports Council’s decision to probe the basis for a possible new Olympic / Paralympics process. Ahead of this spring’s management meeting in Tromsø in May, the committee will gather different views from the sports movement, says Gerhardsen, who has previously expressed that she supports the idea of ​​a new Olympics in Norway.

She emphasizes that the premises from the IOC have changed: The events must have a clear and sustainable re-use profile. The geographical restrictions are no longer so strict. In addition, the process in the actual application process is now dialogue rather than high costs, says Mina Gerhardsen.

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