The Polish city of Krakow has become the latest city to pull out of the race to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. With two of the remaining four city’s also having doubts, is one of the world’s most iconic sporting events losing its appeal?
Krakow was largely seen as the favorite to win next year’s bid, after the front runner, Stockholm pulled out in January. However after a referendum, 70 percent of the residents of the Polish city decided against holding the Winter Olympics, which the country has never held in its history.
“Krakow is closing its efforts to be the host of the 2022 Winter Games due to the low support for the idea among the residents. … I regret that the referendum has put a definite end to … the project that I considered to be very important for the development of the whole region,” the city’s Mayor Jacek Majchrowski said in a statement.
This means there are four cities remaining in the running for the 2022 games: Oslo, Norway; Lvov in Ukraine; the former capital of Kazakhstan, Astana; and Beijing. Lvov’s problem is obvious being in a country undergoing political turmoil, while Oslo’s bid is being undermined by opposition from a large number of residents as well as one of the two parties which makes up the country’s coalition government.
“Believing that the Oslo Olympics would cost under $8.5 billion is like believing in Santa Claus, when the Sochi Olympics cost $85 billion,” said Atle Simonsen, head of the youth wing of the right wing populist Progress Party, who was speaking to Norwegian television. The actual cost of the Sochi games was $51 billion dollars.
That in effect would only leave Almaty in Kazakhstan and Beijing, which hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics games, left to fight it out and try and win the International Olympic Committee vote on July 31, 2015.
Hosting an Olympic games has often been seen as a way of generating extra income, or rejuvenating an area. This year’s Winter Olympics in Sochi transformed a sleepy seaside town into one of Russia’s most modern city’s, with facilities which will help train future Olympic champions for decades to come. The 2012 Olympics in London, not only helped to swell national pride, but also transformed a derelict waste site in Stratford, into an Olympic Park, which now provides low cost housing as well as a number of sporting facilities.
However, these benefits seemed not to appeal to Stockholm. ”To organize Winter Games would mean a big investment in new sports facilities, for example for the bobsled and luge,” said Regina Kevius, the mayor in charge of sports events. ”There isn’t any need for that kind of facility after an Olympics.”