October 9, 2014 / 2:08 PM / 3 years ago

Oslo pullout highlights need for more IOC transparency

BERLIN (Reuters) - Oslo’s surprise withdrawal from the race to stage the 2022 Winter Olympics last week highlighted the need for more transparency in the bidding process, Norwegian Olympic Committee Secretary General Inge Andersen told Reuters on Thursday.

Oslo became the fourth city, after Stockholm, Lviv in Ukraine and Poland’s Krakow to pull out, leaving just two candidates, Kazakhstan’s Almaty and Beijing.

In a strongly-worded response after Oslo’s withdrawal, the IOC lashed out at Norway, saying politicians were misinformed and “were left to take their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies”.

Days before the Norwegian government pulled the plug, local media were awash with details from IOC manuals and the host city contract, that fanned opposition to the Games.

These details included cocktail protocols, meeting with the country’s king and stocked hotel bars. Even hotel room temperatures for IOC members and the quality of the smiles of the Olympic staff were outlined in the 7,000-page documents.

Local media quickly labeled them “contractual IOC demands” if the city won the right to host the Winter Olympics.

The IOC rejected the claims, saying these were merely suggestions or past practices at former Olympic host cities, but the damage was done.

“It is important that the IOC goes through these manuals, which for the first time were made public, to make them in a way a country in western Europe, Canada or the United States can understand them,” Andersen said in an interview.

MORE TRANSPARENCY

”We are living in the world, especially with all social media, where it is important to be more transparent.

“When they (details) become public all the world can read them in the way they want to read them. It is important that the IOC modernizes these manuals and is clear that these are just suggestions,” Andersen said.

He added, however, that these were not the only factors that resulted in Oslo’s exit.

A minority coalition government, a $50 billion price tag for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics and the perception of the IOC within the country all contributed to the city’s withdrawal.

“It was a complex situation and also the IOC was a part of that discussion. It was the Sochi Games, it was the IOC, it was the cost and it was a difficult political situation. That is why there was so much emotion in Norway,” he said.

”The IOC did not see the complexities of the discussions back home.

“I think it was more about the cost, it was more about that the people in Norway, politicians in Norway, trust this process after Sochi and tell the people in Norway that we will not build a new city like Sochi did. That was a big challenge.”

The country, which hosts the Winter Youth Olympics in 2016 in Lillehammer, has won more Winter Olympic medals than any other nation but now needs to mend ties with the IOC.

“Now we need to rebuild the bridges with them,” Andersen said.

“We are hosting the youth of the world in 2016 and we are using this possibility to show the Norwegian people and the Norwegian politicians that we can trust the IOC.”

He said if the Youth Games, the biathlon world championships in Oslo in 2015 and the 2017 road cycling world championships in Bergen went smoothly then a new Norwegian Olympic bid could potentially be on the cards.

“If all three events go well I think that Norway will then go into a discussion how we can do it (Olympics).”

Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Toby Davis

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