What do Beijing and Almaty, Kazahkstan, have in common? They're the two cities left that still want to host the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. On Wednesday, Oslo became the latest city to drop out of the running to host the Olympics after the Norwegian government, concerned the games would be too costly, rejected financial backing for the project.
Three cities before Oslo withdrew their bids after seeing that the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, cost $51 billion. Stockholm, Krakow, Poland, and Lviv, Ukraine, withdrew bids in recent months, and before that, St. Moritz, Switzerland, and Munich, Germany, exited the lineup after voters rejected the Olympics in referendums.
Lviv dropped out in July because of the continuing Ukrainian conflict and resulting military expenses. Krakow left the race in May because 70 percent of voters rejected the bid. Stockholm left in January because Swedish politicians refused to foot the bill.
The dwindling number of contenders for the games is leaving the International Olympic Committee with a embarrassing image problem.
“We lost good cities because of the bad perception of the IOC, the bad perception of how the concept could be done," IOC executive director Gilbert Felli said in July. He blamed the IOC for not better explaining how the games would be financed.
IOC President Thomas Bach has said the committee plans to contribute $750 million to the host city and is confident that the hosts will break even or make a profit.
While Russia’s Sochi Games had a record high price tag, much of the spending was on long-term infrastructure projects.
The IOC selected Oslo as a finalist for the games in July, along with Almaty and Beijing, and assigned Oslo the highest technical ratings of the three cities. Norway has won the most medals of any country in the Winter Olympics. Oslo hosted the 1952 games and Lillehammer was the site of the 1994 games. Beijing hosted the 2008 summer Olympics and would become the first city to host both summer and winter games if it wins the 2022 bid. Almaty hosted the 2011 Winter Asian Games and bid unsuccessfully for the 2014 winter Olympics.