OSLO (Reuters) - Norway's government is withdrawing Oslo's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, it said on Wednesday, leaving Beijing and Almaty in Kazakhstan as the only contenders after most potential applicants pulled out.
Norway, which has hosted the Games twice and won more Winter Games medals than any other nation, will quit the race after the ruling Conservative and Progress parties both declined support, asking the government to stop the application.
"We've received clear advice and there is no reason not to follow this advice," Conservative Prime Minister Erna Solberg said. "A big project like this, which is so expensive, requires broad popular support and there isn't enough support for it."
This year's Sochi Olympics cost a record $51 billion, and while Norway promised an event a tenth of that figure, campaigners could not rally enough support in part due to fears that the cost of hosting the Games would balloon.
"The Conservative Party MPs are divided and cannot advise the government to go ahead with the Olympics. We therefore asked the government to halt the application process," Conservative MP Trond Helleland said.
Stockholm in Sweden, Krakow in Poland, and Ukraine's Lviv have all previously pulled out of the bidding process. Switzerland's St Moritz and Germany's Munich briefly considered a run for the 2022 Games before financial concerns and local opposition led to them dropping their plans.
Oslo city council immediately said it was withdrawing its application for a state guarantee to host the Games, as it no longer saw a realistic chance of parliament backing the application.
(Reporting by Terje Solsvik)