By Tom Degun in Innsbruck

Siri Hatlen_head_and_shouldersJanuary 22 - Norwegian businesswoman Siri Hatlen (pictured) has been appointed chair for the Lillehammer 2016 Winter Youth Olympic Games following the recommendation of the country's Minister of Culture Anniken Huitfeldt.

The 54-year-old has impressive business credentials, having served for two years as the chief executive of Oslo University Hospital, which is one of Scandinavia's largest hospitals with more than 20,000 employees.

Amongst other high profile roles, Hatlen has also served as executive vice president of the major Scandinavian electricity company Statkrat, the chair of the Norwegian State Educational Loan Fund and as a board member of Petroleum Geo-Services.

"It is a privilege to be asked for this office," said Hatlen, who is currently attending the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games here.

"I can say that I spent a long time to decide whether to accept or not.

"It was very nice to be asked, albeit a bit surprising.

"I believe this is both a fun and exciting opportunity."

Gilbert Felli_announces_Lillehammer_as_2016_Lausanne_December_7_2011
Lillehammer was awarded the 2016 Winter Youth Olympics last month, having been the only city to bid for second edition of the competition following their failed bid for the 2012 event.

However, there are high hopes for the event after Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Olympics which are widely credited as one of the best in in history.

The Norwegian Minister of Culture feels that Hatlen's financial acumen and strong background in the business world make her the ideal person to lead the Lillehammer 2016 Organising Committee.

"I am very pleased that Siri has agreed to be chairman of the Organising Committee," said Huitfeldt.

"It will be a challenging task to lead the board of the Youth Olympics but with her broad experience in public and private sectors, Siri is a very well-qualified chair."

The budget for Lillehammer is around $64 million (£41 million/€49 million) while approximately 50 per cent of all revenues are guaranteed in the form of Government support.

The International Olympic Committee's (IOC) financial contribution will amount to around $23 million (£15 million/€18 million) as well as additional funding of $17.4 million (£11.2 million/€13.5 million) for an infrastructure investment that would serve as a legacy after the Youth Olympic Games.

During her stay in Innsbruck for the first Winter Youth Olympics, Hatlen has met with IOC President Jacques Rogge and been at the majority of the venues as Lillehammer prepares to host the second edition of the event.

Over 1,000 athletes ranging in ages from 15 and 18 are expected to compete at the Lillehammer 2016, which like Innsbruck 2012 will feature competitions in the same seven sports that currently make up the Winter Olympics.

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