By Nick Butler

Thomas Bach was ostensibly visiting to oversee preparations for Lillehammer 2016, but the 2022 race occupied much of his time ©TwitterOslo 2022 have hailed a "well-received" visit to Norway by International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach as a turning point in their bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

The Norwegian capital's attempt to host the Games for the first time since 1952 has faced a barrage of criticism in recent months, with a latest opinion poll conducted by research firm Norstat for the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation (NRK) claiming 60 per cent of the population are against the bid.

The Norwegian Government is also yet to provide official endorsement - and are not expected to do so until the autumn - with the junior-coalition partner from the right-wing Progress Party having voted against supporting the bid at their National Congress earlier this month.

The official purpose of Bach's visit was to oversee preparations for the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympics but the subject of Oslo's bid inevitably dominated the trip.  

Bach had an audience with King Harald at the Royal Castle in Oslo before meeting various other sporting and political figures, including Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey, the official with ultimate responsibility for the Government decision.

He then attended a press conference where he faced a barrage of questions about Olso's bid and his Olympic Agenda 2020, rather than LIllehammer 2016. 

Bach claimed a lot of the negative coverage of the Olympic Movement in Norway was "misinformation".

Jonas Gahr Store,Norway's former Foreign Minister who is expected to be elected leader of the Labour Party next month, said the Oslo division of the Party "agrees to the project of hosting the Olympic Games in 2022, but only if they can be organised and conducted in a way that brings them back towards their roots, avoiding too many expensive new facilities".

The fate of the national Labour Party, as with the governing Conservatives, remains unknown.

Thomas Bach arrives for a meeting with Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey during his visit ©ITGIOC President Thomas Bach arrives for a meeting with Norwegian Culture Minister Thorhild Widvey,during his visit ©Getty Images

Ingunn Olsen, Oslo 2022 director of communications, claimed positive benefits had come from Bach's visit.

"As an applicant city we have not met him, but our impression from the media coverage is that he has been well received and that he has given a good impression in public," she told insidethegames

"There has been a big interest in his presence.

"He has received many questions from the Norwegian press about the Oslo 2022 bid process, and has responded to everything.

"We are in good spirit, and work hard to convince the majority of the people, a recent poll showed 53 percent of the younger population, below 30, wants Oslo to host the Winter Games in 2022.

"I think this is very positive.

"We have already successfully recruited several thousand ambassadors from the public, and our efforts on social media are inspiring more supporters day by day.

"At the same time we are planning several activities during the summer where we will meet the public in sport arenas, leisure parks and on cultural events. 

"Obviously there is still work to do to engage and involve people in the development of the concept but we strongly believe that it is possible."

Oslo is locked in a five horse race for the Games in 2022 - along with Almaty, Beijing, Kraków and Lviv - with an unspecified number of candidates due to be selected by the IOC at an Executive Board meeting in Lausanne on July 8 and 9.

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