February 10 - Norwegian officials are hoping that the success of its team at Sochi 2014 will help boost flagging support for Oslo's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
Norway have so far won seven medals at these Games, including two gold, and many experts predict they will end up finishing top of the medals table, consolidating their position as the world's most successful team at the Winter Olympics since they were launched in 1924.
But, a recent nationwide poll, found that more than half of Norwegians were opposed to the Government financially supporting Oslo's campaign, with only 26 per cent backing the idea of the staging it for the first time since 1952.
But Bjørn Dæhlie, winner of a record 12 Olympic medals, including eight gold, is convinced that as success mounts at Sochi 2014 that figure will change dramatically.
Among those Dæhlie tips to shine here is Ole Einar Bjørndalen, winner of the biathlon 10 kilometres sprint here on Saturday (February 8), and who will take over as the most successful Olympian in winter history if he wins one more medal.
"For people watching from Norway, I think the success of Ole Einar Bjørndalen [who and other Norwegians will take them back to the dreams of Lillehammer 1994 and this will, of course, be positive for the process to host the 2022 Olympics," said Dæhlie.
"To see him win his seventh Olympic gold in his sixth Olympic Winter Games, that's incredible and, for me, he's the biggest athlete of winter sports and I'm sure he will beat my record."
The key to earning support, Oslo 2022 officials admit, is persuading the Norwegian public that hosting the Games will not land them with a large bill.
Oslo 2022 chief executive Eli Grimsby claimed that the operating budget would be $3.4 billion (£2.1 billion/€2.5 billion) with an additional $2 billion (£1.2 billion/€1.5 billion) raised from private investors to build facilities like a main media centre.
The campaign for 2022 has been marked by some of the cities expected to be among the leading contenders to host the Games either deciding not to bid following local referendums or pulling out because of lack of financial guarantees.
"We wanted a fair fight for 2022," admitted Gerhard Heiberg, a Norwegian member of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and chief organiser of Lillehammer 1994, the last occasion Norway staged the Games.
"We were not happy to see that Switzerland [St Moritz] voted no [to bidding], so did Germany [Munich], and, unfortunately, Stockholm left the field.
"We feel that these cites could have delivered a good Games if they had stayed in the race.
"Maybe the cost and investment in Sochi frightened them a little bit."
Heiberg, though, believes Oslo would stage a great event.
"This is a good, safe place where everybody knows that the Games will be a success and that will benefit the image of the Olympic Movement," he said.
Stian Berger Rosland, Oslo's Governing Mayor, claimed that investment in expensive new facilities would be minimised and that hosting the Games in the Norwegian capital would help show off the country's multi-cultural nature.
"I think it's a good point in our bid that more than half of the arenas are already built, which means it will be on a different cost scale than if we had to build everything from scratch," he said.
"Oslo is small on a world scale but it's a large melting pot.
"We have 150 nationalities and 40 per cent of our people have a mother tongue other than Norwegian.
"We want the Games to enhance the bonding of these cultures in our country.
"We are going to move forward with our national campaign of getting support for a bid."
Under plans for 2022, events including the prestigious Alpine skiing races would again be held in Lillehammer despite the distance between it and the capital.
Heiberg claimed improved road and rail links since then would make journeys between the two bases easier.
"The time factor is not as important as it used to be," Heiberg said.
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