The $51 billion spent by Russia to host this year’s Winter Olympics — along with the steadily growing worldwide view that the International Olympic Committee is rivaled only by FIFA in terms of corruption — has seemingly had a chilling (ha!) affect on other nations’ desires to host future Winter Games.
On Wednesday, the Norwegian government announced it would no longer fund Oslo’s bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, ending that city’s chances of landing the Games. That leaves Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the only two contenders.
Oslo is merely the latest prospective host city to flee in terror from the Olympics after a nationwide poll, taken in January, found that 58 percent of Norwegians said they didn’t want to use public funds to pay for the Games. Both Stockholm and Krakow, Poland, also submitted bids for the 2022 Games but withdrew because they lacked popular or political support, while the bid from Lviv, Ukraine was doomed by that country’s political unrest. Munich and Davos/St. Moritz in Switzerland aborted their bids at an early stage after gauging the public’s disinterest.
That leaves Beijing and Almaty. Neither of which is ideal.
As Yahoo’s Dan Wetzel points out, Beijing isn’t “within 120 miles of a usable ski mountain.”
Kazakhstan, meanwhile, is a democracy in name only. President Nursultan Nazarbayev has ruled the oil-rich former Soviet republic since the U.S.S.R.’s collapse in 1991, receiving huge majorities of the vote in elections that have been questioned as flawed by international monitors. Although Kazakhstan’s constitution calls for term limits on its president, a constitutional amendment passed in 2007 said that doesn’t apply to Nazarbayev (and only Nazarbayev). He also is widely seen as corrupt: A 2006 study by the World Institute for Development Economics Research said that Nazarbayev “has allegedly tunneled at least U$1 billion of oil export revenues to one of his private accounts; his family controls many other key enterprises in the country.”
“Essentially the only places interested in hosting the 2022 games are countries where actual citizens aren’t allowed a real say in things,” Wetzel wrote.
It seems as if the IOC really, really wanted Oslo to remain in the hunt, saying Norway’s decision was based on “half-truths and factual inaccuracies.” The Associated Press has more:
In a strongly-worded statement, IOC executive director Christophe Dubi described Norway’s decision as a “missed opportunity” for the city and country. He said Norway would miss out on $880 million in sponsorship and television revenues that the IOC will provide to the 2022 host city.
Dubi said the Norwegian bid team asked for a meeting with the IOC earlier this year for an explanation of all the requirements and costs.
“Unfortunately, Oslo sent neither a senior member of the bid team nor a government official to this meeting,” Dubi said. “For this reason senior politicians in Norway appear not to have been properly briefed on the process and were left to take their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies.”
The winning bid will be announced in July 2015.