Stockholm pulls plug on 2022 Games bid

STOCKHOLM Fri Jan 17, 2014 5:56pm GMT

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STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Stockholm has surprisingly pulled the financial plug on its bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics with the Swedish city's ruling Moderate party saying on Friday that investing in the Games was not attractive enough.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in November that six cities, including former summer Games hosts Beijing and Stockholm, had launched bids to stage the 2022 event.

"Arranging a Winter Olympics would mean a big investment in new sports facilities, for example for the bobsleigh and luge," the Moderate party said in a statement.

"There isn't any need for that type of that kind of facility after an Olympics."

Norway capital Oslo, which hosted the 1952 Winter Olympics, is also among those in the running, along with Krakow in Poland, Kazakhstan's Almaty and Ukraine's Lviv.

"Although the calculations are well worked out, we estimate that revenues will likely be lower and costs higher than the investigation indicates," said Stockholm city council chairman and finance commissioner Sten Nordin.

Next month's Winter Games at Russia's Sochi will have done little to make the event more attractive to potential bid cities with an overall price tag of more than $50 billion, more expensive than any previous summer or winter Games.

The IOC played down the Swedish city's withdrawal from the bidding process, saying the field of candidates remained very strong.

"I note that those who took the decision made it absolutely clear that this was not a 'no' to any future bid," IOC spokesman Mark Adams said.

"Indeed, I understand they remain strongly interested in staging the Games and are considering bidding again perhaps with a stronger bid for 2026."

"For the 2022 contest there remain five strong candidates and we look forward to a good contest to stage the Olympic Winter Games," Adams said.

IOC President Thomas Bach, who took over from Jacques Rogge in September, has pledged to make the bidding process less bureaucratic and more attractive to future bid cities.

Stockholm's refusal to back an Olympic bid is reminiscent of the Italian government pulling out of a bid by Rome for the 2020 Olympics two years ago over similar financial fears.

Switzerland's St Moritz and Germany's Munich also briefly considered a run for the 2022 Games before financial concerns and local opposition led to them dropping their plans.

"With more time to the date of application, it is possible that finding other solutions might have been possible. Stockholm is a winter sports town and I am open to staging the Winter Olympics in the future," Nordin said.

"Unfortunately we are of the opinion that it's not realistic to make a bid for the 2022 Olympics," he said.

(Reporting by Simon Johnson and Karolos Grohmann, Additional by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Writing by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond and Pritha Sarkar)

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