A majority of those attending the National Congress of the Progress Party, the junior coalition partner of the Norwegian Government, have today voted against going ahead with a bid from Oslo for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.
The Party's leader Siv Jensen, who is also the Norwegian Finance Minister, Transport and Communications Minister Ketil Solvik-Olsen, and Petroleum and Energy Minister Tord Lien were among those who voted to say "no" to the Games for now, which could make it difficult for the Government to provide the financial guarantees required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The right wing Progress Party claimed that hosting the Olympics and Paralympics would be too costly and could cause funds to be stripped back from other areas, such as healthcare and education.
"Believing that the Oslo Olympics would cost under 50 billion kroner (£5.5 billion/$9.3 billion/€6.7 billion) is like believing in Santa Claus, when the Sochi Olympics cost 500 billion," Atle Simonsen, head of the Party's youth wing, told public broadcaster NRK.
The Progress Party is currently only the third largest in the Norwegian Parliament behind Labour and Conservative, but it is also the junior partner in a governing coalition with the Conservatives, giving it importance in Government decisions such as whether to endorse the 2022 bid.
However, Oslo 2022 has said it is not surprised by the vote and insisted it will carry on with its work on the Olympic and Paralympic bid as before.
"It doesn't influence our work right now so we just move on," Ingunn Olsen, Oslo 2022's director of communication, told insidethegames.
"We are now working to prepare the Candidature Procedure and Questionnaire (CPQ), which we are going to send to the IOC in January 2015.
"We are focusing on doing the rest of the application as good as possible.
"There have been many sceptics in the Progress Party so in that respect it is not so surprising.
"We had hoped that they would have waited for the discussion to go to Parliament [rather than voting against the bid today].
"Still we don't think this will stop the process."
Olsen also said that Oslo 2022 is confident that it will come across no problems in receiving the Government Guarantees required to host the Winter Games when the decision is expected to go to the Norwegian Parliament some time this autumn.
"The Progress Party is in the minority in the Government," she added.
"We strongly believe we have a very good concept, and the Government and Parliament will see that it [the Games] will make a lot of possibilities for the whole country and they will give us guarantees in the end."
Oslo 2022 will now be hoping the Government decision will be made before the IOC Executive Board meeting on July 8-9, during which an unspecified number of candidate cities will be chosen to go forward to the next stage of the bid race.
As well as Oslo, the Kazakh city of Almaty, China's capital Beijing, Kraków in Poland and Ukraine's Lviv are also contenders for the Games, the host city of which will be revealed at the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on July 31 next year.
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