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Oslo Really Didn't Want the 2022 Winter Olympics

Hosting the games has become a sprawling, expensive, drama-filled honor.
The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.
The 2014 Winter Games in Sochi.Singulyarra / Shutterstock.com

Thanks, but no thanks. That’s the message the city of Oslo sent to the International Olympic Committee last week, by withdrawing its bid for the 2022 Winter Games. Long the frontrunner to host the event, Norway’s capital now joins an embarrassingly long list of cities that have passed up the opportunity to stage the 2022 shindig. Stockholm, Krakow, and Lviv all canceled initial bids to host, while referendums in Munich and Switzerland’s St. Moritz barred those cities from entering a bid in the first place. This now leaves only Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as potential hosts, neither of which are established winter sports cities. This global snubbing is a major headache for the IOC, whose whispered reputation for sleaze and self-importance seems to be finally catching up with it. But what makes Oslo’s withdrawal all the more striking is that 55 percent of its citizens voted "yes" to the games in a referendum a year ago. So what has made the Norwegian parliament, which voted to abandon its bid last week, swing against the games?

Part of the answer lies in the IOC’s high-handed demands. These helped to poison the atmosphere and led to the Norwegian media dubbing the games a “pamper-party.” Indeed, local media have really gone to town on the IOC, feeding the public snippets from a long list of prima donna-ish demands cribbed from a 7,000-page IOC handbook. According to newspaper Dagbladet, it included a demand for a cocktail party with the Norwegian royal family (where they royals themselves would be expected to pick up the bill), officials-only traffic lanes through the city, and separate entry points at the airport, where officials would be greeted with a mandatory smile. To keep the wheels of the event well lubricated, the IOC also requested an assurance that all bars in hotels hosting them would stay open “extra late."