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  • Budget Questions Loom for Norwegian Youth Olympics


    Lillehammer hosts a number of winter sporting events annually. (Getty Images)
    (ATR) After Oslo’s 2022 demise due to financial concerns, Lillehammer 2016 YOG organizers deny their event is costing too much for taxpayers.

    ATR understands that the YOG organizing committee is asking the Norwegian government for an extra $2.7 million to fund its nationwide engagement program targeting 20,000 youngsters.

    The government has agreed to find the extra cash to deliver on the YOG legacy commitment. But it has yet to be ratified by parliament. A decision comes in June.

    YOG 2016 president Siri Hatlen tells Around the Rings that the event is not going over budget.

    “We are keeping the cost level described in the bid,” she said.

    “We experience a wholehearted support of the government, remembering their unanimous support to this project, proven by this proposal from the minister of culture.

    The last Youth Olympics Games was held in Nanjing last August. (Getty Images)
    “We and they do not see the YOG as an event of 10 days, but as an integrated part of the 10-year plan to develop youth sport in Norway and give youth across sports, culture and education opportunities to develop and learn,” Hatlen added, by way of explaining why the additional finances are called for.

    Hatlen said the extra money “makes us able to deliver games and an Olympic legacy according to the ambitions in our bid."

    Lillehammer 2016 has had “a very strong project management and structured cost control” since the preparations launched in 2012, she insisted.

    “However, as highlighted by the external audit of the bid, the income ambitions in the bid were too ambitious, and we have now adjusted them according to our current experience.

    “By compensating part of this income loss, the minister will ensure we will be able to host the games according to the ambitions set by the parliament in the bid,” she explained.
    Oslo may return with a 2026 Olympic bid. (Getty Images)

    News of the demand for extra government cash for Lillehammer 2016 comes in the wake of Oslo’s disastrous Winter Olympic bid. The city crashed out of the 2022 bidding contest last autumn after failing to secure Norwegian government support amid concerns over the costs of the Games and IOC demands placed on Olympic hosts.

    Last month, IOC member Gerhard Heiberg told ATR that Norway may run for the 2026 Winter Olympics after all. In December, he had said Oslo’s 2022 collapse had wrecked any chance of the city returning with a tilt at those Games.

    “We are all of the opinion that first we have to organize the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games in February 2016,” Heiberg told ATR a few weeks ago.

    “After that we can discuss whether we should participate in the competition for 2026 Winter Games.”

    Applications for the 2026 Olympics are not due with the IOC until 2017.

    Reported by Mark Bisson

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