Costs and bidding process scare off European hopefuls

Fri Oct 10, 2014 7:24am EDT
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - What do European cities Stockholm, Oslo, Krakow, Lviv, St Moritz and Munich have in common?

They have all turned down or pulled out of bidding for the Winter Olympics in 2022 and triggered alarm bells at the International Olympic Committee.

The withdrawals, with Oslo pulling out as recently as last week, have highlighted the need for what IOC President Thomas Bach has said was an overhaul of the bidding process.

But as it stands now, the Alps, Europe's traditional winter sports hub, will be without the Games for at least a generation, until 2026 at the earliest.

Italy's Turin hosted the event in 2006 before the Games went to Vancouver in Canada for 2010 and Russia's Sochi in the Caucasus mountains this year.

For 2018 the Winter Olympics will travel to South Korea's Pyeongchang, with Kazakhstan's Almaty and Beijing in China the only candidates left for 2022.

Whether scared off by what potential bidders see as massive costs, like Sochi's $51 billion price tag, doubtful financial returns or strong local opposition, Europe has been turned off the winter Games for now at least.

"Norway's Lillehammer in 1994 staged the most successful winter Games ever," sports marketing expert Michael Payne, the IOC's former longtime marketing chief, told Reuters.   Continued...