The Winter Olympics in Beijing will end next Sunday. The Closing Ceremony will mark the end of the highly successful Winter Games for the Austrian Olympic Committee. None other than Johannes Strolz will be the flag bearer at the closing ceremony. The Vorarlberg ski racer Strolz contributed to the medal yield of 17 pieces (6/7/4) gold in the combination and silver in the slalom and has the chance to win another precious metal in the team competition on Saturday. One is “of course very satisfied” with the sporting performance, said President Karl Stoss in his final press conference. “We are leaving big sporting nations behind us. If we stay in the top ten it would be a huge achievement.” Even in the top ten, you would currently be well ahead of those four years ago in Pyeongchang, he called the eight fourth places “very bitter”.
Only the injured athletes (tobogganist Yannick Müller, ski racer Ariane Rädler, snowboarder Clemens Millauer, ski freestyler Lara Wolf, biathlete Lisa Hauser) and a total of 17 Covid cases (twelve of which are old cases where Ct values fluctuated) are according to the ÖOC President Karl Stoss a downer.
Due to the corona pandemic, the Winter Games were carried out under strict security precautions. But the athletes lacked nothing except freedom of movement. “The most important thing is how the athletes feel, because that’s what matters. I haven’t heard a single negative voice from an Austrian,” said Stoss. Strolz I told him, for example, that he felt the friendliness behind the mask and goggles of the people, and he experienced that himself.
Still, there have been problems here and there. some degree of flexibility is hard to get into your head. Certain things have to be pursued with vigour.” This was successful, for example, when the Chinese wanted to postpone the ÖOC charter flight by ten hours on Monday, which would have caused massive problems when landing in Vienna-Schwechat in the middle of the night.
The Winter Games also come to an end in the hope that the gigantic sports facilities will continue to be used. In four years, Italy will be hosting the Winter Games, where many existing sports facilities that have been tried and tested every year in World Cups will be used. “These will certainly be great games, but we will have to travel a long way because Milan, Cortina and Bormio are not around the corner either. That’s the price you have to pay,” says Stoss. But relying on sustainability is the path that you have to continue to follow consistently; as well as allowing games to take place in the usual winter sports atmosphere.
Stoss believes that there would be great interest in the idea of an Austrian application with a neighboring country like Carinthia. The International Olympic Committee grants 800 million dollars (703.61 million euros) to organizers of winter games. “The Olympics are definitely a business, they would be a good business. And an even bigger one if you didn’t have to take any infrastructure measures at all.” Whether alone or with a neighboring country, you have everything on your doorstep in Austria. And the flexibility to take certain paths would be absolutely given.