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Why Does Nobody Want the Winter Olympics?

21/10/2014 11:10 BST | Updated 20/12/2014 10:59 GMT

The recent use of Sochi's Winter Olympic Park for Lewis Hamilton's victorious - if sombre - F1 Grand Prix would suggest that the venue for last winter's games is still basking in a post-Olympic glow.

However, when frontrunners Oslo pulled out of the running to host the 2022 Winter Olympics this month due to lack of public support, it seemed that the event had lost its appeal to would-be hosts. With other contenders Stockholm, Krakow and Lviv also withdrawing their entries, it begs the question: Why does nobody want the Winter Olympics?

When it comes to the 2022 games, context is key. After the debacle surrounding FIFA's award of the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, the European Club Association has insisted that the Winter Olympics be moved from their regular slot to a few weeks later to make way for the football, to avoid parched players collapsing on the pitch in the desert kingdom's stifling summer heat. Just the suggestion of such an unprecedented reorganisation is likely to annoy potential organisers, who won't want to play second fiddle to the World Cup.

Most recent host Sochi's success should be a strong indicator of what a positive effect the Winter Olympics can have on a city. More than 140,000 attended the Winter Olympics and billions watched it on TV. Along with last weekend's reuse of the Olympic Park, the Fisht Olympic Stadium is set to be used as a soccer venue in the 2018 World Cup.

However, more recent analysis suggests that only 43 per cent of Sochi's hotel rooms - many built specially for the games - were occupied in early July. For the most expensive Olympics in history, with a price tag of $50 billion, getting a long-term payoff is crucial. This is perhaps why the director of still-running Kazakhstan's bid team has said if his country is to host the Winter Olympics in the capital, Astana, it will be the 'cheapest, thriftiest, smartest games'.

Heavy expenditure on the previous Winter Olympics appears to be a deciding factor in losing the public's backing, despite Oslo's bid team only planning to spend closer to $5 billion. Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg said upon Oslo's withdrawal: "A big project like this, which is so expensive, requires broad popular support and there isn't enough support for it."

I know from working on events like the London 2012 Olympics and the Tour de France's Grand Depart, that convincing people to part with money to back a major event is one of the biggest challenges in putting one together. Oslo's skittishness about potential costs is by no means unique.

Indeed Oslo had previously raised concerns over cost with the IOC and requested that the demands levied upon any hosts be reduced - such as IOC members paying their own way at the event.

These mega events can have a huge economic impact within the regions that host them. They can create other positive social impacts too. As the events move around the world and become more and more lavish, so does the bureaucracy and cost that surrounds them. In turn they become more challenging to host and less financially appealing.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) needs to have a close look at how the events are staged by host cities, encouraging a leaner more frugal approach to hosting and delivering major events - an approach I and many like me adopt when creating and delivering events. Couple this with a better handle on promoting the wider benefits more effectively and these mega events, like the Winter Olympics, could appeal considerably more to potential hosts.