By Nick Butler

Protests against Oslo's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics have taken place today ©FacebookOnly around 200 people attended a demonstration against Oslo's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in the Norwegian capital this evening, although the protesters claim to have had 35,000 signatures supporting their opposition to the campaign. 

The rally, thought to be the first such protest against a sporting event in Norway, comes as criticism of the bid continues to grow ahead of the Government making a decision over whether to back the attempt next month. 

Oslo is locked in a three-way battle with Almaty and Beijing, but critics complain that an Olympics is a luxury that cannot be afforded at a time of economic unease.

They are also opposed to the supposed influence of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which, they claim, has become "too big" for its own good.

Consisting of a march from the Parliamentary Building to the Oslo 2022 offices, the protest was organised by the Oslo wing of the Socialist Youth Movement, but claimed to be politically neutral.

The turnout was far lower than they must have hoped but the anti-Olympic lobby remain confident it will be followed with similar events in other parts of the country.

"We are happy with the demonstration and that we could present the huge amount of signatures supporting our cause," Nicholas Wilkinson, leader of the Party organising the protest, told insidethegames afterwards.

"We are campaigning against hosting the Olympic Games, we think it's wrong to spend NOK40 billion (£4 billion/$6 billion/€5 billion) on a party for the corrupt IOC.

"The Olympic Games are used to hide breaches of human rights, it was scandalous that Russia was allowed to host the [2014] Games [in Sochi].

"The IOC sent thousands of pages of demands to Norway to allow us to host the Games and they have become too big for their own good.

"It is time countries started standing up to the demands and the greed of the IOC by saying no to hosting the Games.

"The vast majority of he Norwegian population is against holding the Games here as they would rather spend money on schools and hospitals than on a three week party.

"The Government should listen to the people and say no."

Youth groups prepare banners ahead of the demonstration ©FacebookYouth groups prepare banners ahead of the demonstration ©Facebook

But, while a series of polls have suggested that a majority of the population are indeed opposed to the bid, messages of support have also been voiced, most recently from 18 of the 19 regional sports confederations across Norway, who declared their backing earlier this week. 

Oslo 2022 claim the Games will benefit the nation, with a "cultural dialogue throughout the country", something being taken "just as seriously as sport" by the Bid Committee, one example of this.

"We are aware that not everybody is supporting our bid, the cultural workshops have brought together both opponents and those in favour," Oslo 2022 director of marketing and communications, Marit Høvik Hartmann, told insidethegames today. 

"In spite of skepticism, people have attended in generating ideas, in a dialogue for opportunities."

A Government decision on whether to support the bid is expected in the first 15 to 20 days of October, insidethegames understands, after which a White Paper will be distributed before a Parliamentary vote takes place in December.

A final decision as to who will host the Games is due to be made during the IOC Session in Kuala Lumpur on July 31.

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