The 2014 Winter Olympics ended only a week ago, and already the task is on to find a host city for the 2022 Winter Games. Pyeonchang, South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympics marking the first time South Korea will host an Olympics, since Seoul hosted the 1988 Summer Olympics. But hosting the games comes with great scrutiny. Just after hosting a successful Winter Olympics, Russian President Vladimir Putin took all the goodwill his country earned, and threw it in the garbage by declaring war on Ukraine after the pro-Russian prime minster of Ukraine was ousted by protesters.
While every country has skeletons in their closet, it is not up to the IOC to make things better in a nation that doesn’t want change. The IOC needs to remember that the Olympics are a sporting event, (to go along with a massive TV reality show on NBC) not a political movement. Therefore it is time for the Olympics to have permanent host cities for the games. Here are five such cities that should permanently host the Winter Olympics.
I am incredibly biased in this choice. My Canadian side will be coming out here. No, Canada isn’t perfect but my home and native land is more geared to host the Winter Olympics. Vancouver hosted the games in 2010 and the country bonded like it never had before or since in my lifetime. I’ve also been to Vancouver many times and trust me, it is one of the most beautiful cities you’ll ever visit! It has all the facilities intact and it will have no trouble convincing the NHL to send its players to participate. Television coverage won’t be an issue as many of the events will be shown live in primetime. There are issues though. The athletes village has been converted to condos and there isn’t much land left to build a new a temporary home for the competitors. Pacific Coliseum, where the figure skating and short track events were held, is not in the most desirable neighbourhood in the city. And good luck driving in downtown Vancouver. But this city is equipped to host the games again. With the Pacific Ocean and coastal mountains serving as a backdrop and a world-class ski resort like Whistler not that far away, Vancouver is a great choice to be on the rotation of host cities for the Winter Olympics.
The Norwegian capital is the frontrunner to host the 2022 Olympics but the costs of the games is a concern to the citizens. Oslo last hosted the Olympics in 1952 and many of the facilities are either outdated or torn down. A new hockey arena would have to be built as well as a new curling facility. Events such as bobsleigh and luge as well as the alpine and nordic skiing events would take place in Lillehammer, the host city of the 1994 Winter Olympics. That being said, Norway can pull this off. The country is financially sound and it is a powerhouse in the Winter Olympics. Sports such as biathlon, nordic combined and cross-country skiing are religion in Norway. Speed skating is also very popular in the Scandinavian nation, especially when Johan Olav Koss won three gold medals for Norway in 1994, thus becoming a sporting legend. It would take some negotiations to get the NHL to send its players to Oslo, but the time difference isn’t nearly as bad as Sochi. Plus, Oslo is considered one of the most livable cities on the planet. If the people can get behind the bid and they just might, Oslo is a wise choice to be on the rotation of host cities.
The host city for the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics, Innsbruck is beautifully situated in the Austrian alps and is an ideal choice for a host city of the Winter Olympics. Alpine skiing would benefit the most as it is possible that the famed Hahnenkamm mountain in Kitzbuhel could be used for the downhill portion. The ski resort is roughly 100 kilometres outside of Innsbruck, which is the same distance from Vancouver to Whistler. The ski jump hill and other nordic events like biathlon and cross-country skiing are in good shape and just need a “spit and polish” job to be ready for an Olympics. Innsbruck would need new venues for speed skating, hockey and curling, so there would be a price tag attached to hosting the games. However, Austria is a Winter Olympic nation and given the opportunity, would gladly host the games again. A secure, safe country, Austria doesn’t have the issues that Sochi or Beijing have as far as human rights concerns. Time zone would be tricky as most of the events would take place in the morning or afternoon in North American time, but it’s an improvement over Sochi. The NHL might even send its players to the games as well, but it would take some negotiating. The positives outweigh the negatives and Innsbruck would be a solid choice in the rotation of host cities.
The host city of the 1998 Winter Olympics is the lone Asian city on this list. Nagano did a fine job hosting the games and most of the venues are in use. The Big Hat Arena that hosted hockey is used for various hockey tournaments in the country. The White Ring arena that hosted figure skating could host hockey as well, but is mainly used for short track speed skating, a very popular sport in Japan. The M-Wave arena is still an excellent speed skating oval, as it is part of the World Cup circuit. Most of the venues would need some touching up but the facilities are still in good shape, so there won’t be a huge need to build new venues. The issue will be television. Nagano is 15 time zones away from the eastern time zone which will put most of the events in the middle of the night here. This won’t make NBC or Canadian television happy as people may not stay up to watch events at 3:00 am. While the NHL did go to Nagano in 1998, it is very doubtful they would go again because of the poor television exposure. However, Japan is a wealthy nation and the games will be well-organized. Nagano makes the list.
Once again, my Canadian bias shines through. Calgary hosted the Olympics in 1988 and while Canada didn’t light up the medal standings, (2 silver and 3 bronze medals) the lasting impact of those games cannot be forgotten. The speed skating oval proved to be an excellent training ground for future Olympic medallists Catriona Le May Doan and Cindy Klassen. The bobsleigh and luge park provided the impetus for the likes of Pierre Leuders and David MacEachern to win gold in 1998, and Kaillie Humphries and Heather Moyse to win golds in Vancouver and Sochi. There is terrific legacy attached to the Calgary Olympics. Plus, the city is booming and the Rockies provide a beautiful backdrop to the west. The one issue, believe it or not, is where to build the new hockey rink. The Scotiabank Saddledome, the current home of the Calgary Flames is outdated and suffered some damage, after flooding wreaked havoc in the Stampede City last summer. While the Saddledome could host figure skating and short track, it won’t be suitable to host hockey or the Flames. Even though Calgary is booming, there may not be enough room downtown, to build a new arena. If and when Calgary city council can determine a proper site for an arena, then Calgary becomes an ideal city to host the games. Every event in primetime, plus a guaranteed lock the NHL will send its players make Calgary a great choice for the Winter Olympic rotation.
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