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WINTER OLYMPICS

Norway wants to host 2026 Winter Olympics

Norway’s Telemark County wants to host the Winter Olympics in 2026.

Norway wants to host 2026 Winter Olympics
The opening ceremony at the 1994 Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. File photo: Bjørn Sigurdsøn / NTB scanpix

The county is preparing to bid for the event, leader of Telemark’s municipal sporting committee Geir Berge Nordtveit confirmed to NRK on Monday.

“I can confirm that we want to bring the Winter Olympics to Telemark,” Nordtveit said.

Preparations for the bid launch had been kept secret by the county municipality prior to Monday’s confirmation.

An official launch event is scheduled for Tuesday.

Telemark decided to throw its hat into the ring for the event after Austrian city Innsbruck decided not to bid, according to NRK.

Next year’s Winter Olympics will be held in the South Korean city of Pyeongchang, with the 2022 games to be hosted in Beijing.

Telemark will also ask neighbouring counties Buskerud and Vestfold to contribute to the bid, reports NRK.

As such, the bid will include events in different locations across Telemark, and perhaps beyond, rather than hosting all events in the same city wherever possible – the model currently used.

Norway previously hosted the Winter Olympics in 1994, when Lillehammer in Oppland county was the host city.

READ ALSO: Norway sceptical about new Olympic bid

WINTER OLYMPICS

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire

Norway's legendary biathlete Marit Bjørgen, who won a record eighth gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February, on Friday said she would call it quits at the age of 38.

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire
Norwegian biathlon legend Marit Bjørgen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“I don't feel I have the motivation required to give 100 percent for another season, that's why I'm quitting,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

“I thought it would be easier to say. I'm emotional. It has been an epoch in my life, over 20 years. So it's a bit special to say that this is my last season as an elite athlete,” she said.

Bjørgen underlined her status as an all-time great in the sport at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this year, when she grabbed a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medal, winning the 30km cross country to put Norway top of the final medals table.

The Olympian had earlier become the most successful winter games competitor of all time by finishing third in the team sprint free.

Her bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla put her on 14 Olympic medals, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has 13 in the biathlon.

Bjørgen is also the second most successful woman at either the Summer or Winter Games, trailing only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals.

She was showered with tributes from fellow athletes, and politicians, after the news broke on Friday.

“She was terribly important to me, she was my idol,” said Therese Johaug, a seven-time world champion and former Olympic gold medallist who was suspended after failing a drug test.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a role model, you made us jump with joy and scream with excitement,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.

Bjørgen claimed her first World Cup victory in Dusseldorf in October 2002 and her first Olympic medal (silver) in Salt Lake City the same year.

She gave birth to her first and only son, Marius, in 2015.

Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, enjoyed a barnstorming Winter Olympics, breaking the United States' 2010 record of 37 medals at a single winter games.

Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian in history, also announced his retirement this week, saying he would quit at the end of the season at the age of 44.

READ ALSO: 'We are not super-human': the secret to Norway's Olympic success