Oslo 2022 Games pullout no blow but changes needed - IOC

Thu Oct 2, 2014 6:19am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

(Reuters) - Oslo quitting the race to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics has not hurt the International Olympic Committee but has underlined that changes are needed to make the Games more attractive to bidders, president Thomas Bach told Reuters on Thursday.

IOC head Bach said that Norway's decision to pull out was mainly "a political one" given the country's current minority coalition government.

Norway's government withdrew Oslo's bid for the Winter Olympics on Wednesday, leaving Kazakhstan's Almaty and Beijing as the only two candidates, with the International Olympic Committee set to vote on the winning bid in July, 2015.

Oslo also became the fourth city after Stockholm, Krakow in Poland and Ukraine's Lviv to pull out of the 2022 Games bidding process.

"We are really feeling sorry for the Norwegian athletes and sports movement who were very engaged in this bid, because they realized what a push it would have given for sport and healthy lifestyle in Norway," Bach told Reuters in a telephone interview.

"On the other hand it is clear that we have some issues with the Olympic Winter Games, for geographical reasons and some other reasons. This is what we are addressing with the Olympic Agenda 2020."

Bach shrugged off suggestions the IOC had been bruised by the repeated snubs, but accepted Games costs had been a factor.

"We haven't even got a black eye. We should not forget we have two candidates (Beijing and Almaty) who are offering two very interesting approaches," said the German, a former Olympic fencing champion who took over as president last year with the 2022 bidding process already under way.   Continued...

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach delivers a speech during the closing ceremony of the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing, Jiangsu province August 28, 2014. REUTERS/Aly Song