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Oslo to bid for 2022 Winter Games

By Balazs Koranyi

OSLO (Reuters) - Oslo launched its bid on Wednesday to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, hoping to organize a low-cost event and bring the Games back to Norway which has won more winter medals than any other nation.

Oslo, which hosted the 1952 Winter Games, said it would rely on the capital's sporting infrastructure and spend just 33 billion crowns ($5.32 billion) on the event, a fraction of the $50 billion Russia is spending on next year's Olympics in Sochi.

"Sochi will spend ten times this much and 2018 host Pyeongchang (in South Korea) will also spend far above this," Norway's Olympic committee spokesman Per Toeien said. "We are planning a very compact, low-cost Olympics."

Oslo promises to host most events within the city, hoping to woo the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with venues that are close together, a big change from some past winter Games where spectators had to travel long distances.

However, not everything will be in Oslo with alpine skiing, bobsleigh and the luge being held in Norway's 1994 Winter Games host town Lillehammer, about 200 km north of Oslo.

With a huge offshore oil sector and a government wealth fund with investments worth $800 billion, or $155,000 for each of the country's 5.1 million people, Norway is one of the few countries in Europe that can afford to host the Games.

But with the event costing more than four times as much as the Lillehammer Olympics, Norway's government has been uneasy about the plans and only 55 percent of the city's residents supported the city's candidacy in a September referendum.

The government said it would conduct a thorough cost assessment and only provide the 33 billion crowns guarantee if financial plans passed the vetting process.

Kazakhstan's Almaty, Ukraine's Lviv and Sweden's Stockholm have announced their candidacies and China's state media reported that Beijing and the northern city of Zhangjiakou will jointly bid for the 2022 Games.

Voters in Munich, meanwhile, voted against bidding to host the Olympics in a local referendum.

Final applications are due to be lodged with the IOC in January 2015 and the hosts will be selected in July that year.

(Reporting by Balazs Koranyi; Editing by Ken Ferris)

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