A number of innovations to the games are included in the Norwegian county's plans.
“We want to revolutionise the form the Winter Olympics has today. We built the Gaustabanen [cable car inside the Gaustatoppen mountain, completed in 1959, ed.] in seven years, so we can manage an Olympics in nine,” Jonny Pettersen, head of the sports council in Notodden, told NRK.
On Monday, reports emerged that a group of people connected to the county's sports authorities had put together a report on the county's ambitions of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2026.
Sports councils from two of the county's cities – Tinn and Notoden – officially announced the proposal for the bid on Tuesday.
“Telemark has a proud cultural legacy and skiing tradition and is a famous name in the world of skiing. We want to bring the Winter Olympics back to its roots and to the people. We will focus on sustainable development in relation to UN climate targets and new technology that does not damage the environment,” Pettersen said.
Hosting the winter games in 2026 would continue the legacy of Sondre Norheim, who invented the Telemark ski – the prototype of all modern skis – in the 1800s, said the team behind the ambitious plan.
“We have a proud tradition. We want to give the Winter Olympics back to the people. The sporting happiness and party atmosphere we saw at Lillehammer [during the 1994 games, ed.] is what we want,” Veslemøy Wåle, a member of the Conservative Party in Notodden, told NRK.
The 2026 bid will offer alternative concepts to the giant projects offered by other bids, according to the two sporting councils.
“We know that an Olympics is not cheap, but in general legacy is an extensive consideration for us. We are completely dependent upon state support for financing, but hope to gain private investment too. We have not calculated it, but for Oslo [the withdrawn 2022 bid, ed.] there was talk of a price of around 22 billion kroner [2.3 billion euros],” Pettersen said.
The proposed 2026 Winter Olympics would primarily take place around Notodden and Rjukan.
“We have not placed a single facility yet… We want to invite the entire region. And we are also willing to think big. It takes an hour and a half to get from Notodden to Oslo, where there are 1.5 million people,” Pettersen told NRK.
The next stage of the proposed bid is a viability study for bringing the event to Telemark in 2026.
“We will look at which of our existing facilities can be used, and we are dreaming of the world's most spectacular downhill run.
“It is no secret that we can imagine the downhill section starting at the Gaustatoppen,” Pettersen added.
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