June 5 - Oslo's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics was today backed by the City Council but it still faces its toughest obstacle, a public referendum in September.
It would be the first time that Oslo has held the Olympics since 1952 and the first in Norway since 1994, when Lillehammer staged them.
A majority of Oslo City Councillors, consisting of the Conservative Party, the Labour Progressive Party, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party, voted today to proceed with the bid.
It is estimated that it would cost up to 30 billion NOK (£3.3 billion/$5.2 billion/€3.9 billion) to stage the Olympics and Paralympics in Oslo.
"The Olympic Winter Games is one of the largest events [in the world]," said Stian Berger Røsland, Oslo's Governing Mayor.
"We will invite the world to our home and show off Norway as winter sports nation, as a knowledge-based society and an attractive partner.
"Extremely compact and urban Oslo, with its unique location between the fjord and the forest, it is the only capital in the world which can stage a compact Winter Olympics and Paralympics in an urban environment.
"All the events, with few exceptions, would take place in the capital.
"The alpine events and exercises for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton, would take place in the Lillehammer region.
"Along with the sport, we have worked out a concept we believe that will stand strong in the tough international competition that lies ahead."
A recent survey claimed that 58 per cent of Oslo residents back the bid but a referendum, scheduled to coincide with the Parliamentary election on September 9, which will give the citizens an opportunity to back it or not, is vital.
A proposed bid from St Moritz and Davos has already had to be scrapped after the public in Switzerland voted against it in March.
"Today's City Council decision is a milestone for all of us who work with Oslo 2022," said Eli Grimbsy, head of the bid.
"We are happy with the City Council decision and we look forward to embark on the next stage.
"There are many who want to read up on Olympic plans before the referendum in Oslo on 9 September, and it is important for us to make the information as accessible as possible, both for all of Oslo, but also show what opportunities the Olympics and Paralympics offers for other regions."
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