Thomas Bach insists the Norwegian people do support the Olympic Games ©IOC

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has claimed the Norwegian people are not opposed to the Olympic concept and hopes Lillehammer 2016 will help boost this enthusiasm.

Bach was speaking on a visit to the Learn & Share Centre, a leisure and educational facility located close to the Athletes' Village.

Oslo's bid for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics was abandoned in 2014 amid vociferous public and political opposition, despite the huge popularity of winter sports in Norway.

Alleged "extravagence" was a major criticism during the bidding process, including a list of "pompous" demands supposedly imposed upon Oslo by the IOC. 

Bach was asked about whether the Winter Youth Olympic Games opening here tomorrow will help repair Norway's relations with the IOC,.

He pointedly answered in relation to the Olympic Movement, rather than the organisation itself.

"I don’t think that there is an attitude of the Norwegian people against the Olympic Games as such," he said.

"You see here how much the population is embracing the Games and here will send a very good message about the modern Olympic Games and the Olympic values."

Thomas Bach meeting with athletes during his tour today ©IOC/Flickr
Thomas Bach meeting with athletes during his tour today ©IOC/Flickr

Bach was joined by Lillehammer 2016 President Siri Hatlen during his tour, as well as by an IOC entourage that included Athletes' Commission vice-chair Angela Ruggiero, the Olympic ice hockey gold medallist, who is head of the Coordination Commission overseeing preparations for these Games.

Bach toured facilities, including a World Anti-Doping Agency educational booth and various sporting facilities, including a trampoline and table tennis and air hockey tables. 

He also met with athletes, including members of the Slovakian ice hockey team and Kenyan Alpine skier Sabrina Wanjiku Simader.

Bach, a men's team foil fencing gold medal winner at Montreal 1976, also answered a series of more serious questions.

He once again underlined the IOC's commitment to supporting refugees,

Bach was also asked about the Youth Olympic concept, admitting changes will continue to be made based on consultation with athletes.

Improving upon the cultural and educational experience was cited as a key aim.

Bach is expected to officially start the Games at the Opening Ceremony tomorrow, although - unlike at the Nanjing 2014 Summer Youth Olympic Games - he is not expected to attend the whole event.