The Norwegian county of Telemark has outlined plans to launch a bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
Geir Berge Nordtveit, leader of Telemark’s municipal sporting committee, told Norwegian broadcaster NRK that the county is preparing a bid. “I can confirm that we want to bring the winter Olympics to Telemark,” Nordtveit said.
NRK added that Telemark is keen to incorporate neighbouring counties Buskerud and Vestfold in its bid. Norwegian Olympic Committee member Gerhard Heiberg, who led the organising committee for Norway’s last winter Olympics in Lillehammer in 1994, has welcomed news of a bid.
Heiberg, who is an honorary member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), told Norwegian newspaper VG: “It is very positive that there is an interest in arranging the Olympics in different places in Norway. Telemark is new to the circuit, but this is a nice initiative that needs to be taken seriously.
“The IOC is in contact with several potential applicants, but it is interesting that some people in Norway see the opportunity and welcome an Olympics.”
News of a bid for the 2026 Games comes after Norway’s most recent tilt at the Olympics collapsed in acrimonious circumstances. In October 2014, Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Games leaving only two contenders for the hosting rights – Beijing in China and Almaty in Kazakhstan.
The Norwegian city became the latest applicant to drop out of the running after the country’s government decided against providing the necessary financial support amid concerns about the cost of staging the Games.
The IOC’s executive director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, released a strongly-worded statement soon after the news emerged, saying that Oslo’s decision had been based on “half-truths and factual inaccuracies.”
Beijing went on to defeat Almaty and claim the hosting rights in July 2015. A referendum defeat this month all but ended hopes of Innsbruck bidding for the 2026 Games. The Austrian city had set forth a bid plan encompassing the wider Tyrol region, along with events in Germany. However, 53.35 per cent of voters in Tyrol rejected the proposal, with this figure rising to 67.41 per cent in Innsbruck, the capital of the province.
Dubi last month said that talks over the 2026 Games were held at the IOC Session with Innsbruck, Sion (Switzerland), Calgary (Canada) and Stockholm (Sweden). The likes of Almaty and Sapporo (Japan) have also expressed an interest in bidding, while the US Olympic Committee is also weighing up its options with Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno all touted as potential bid cities.