Culture minister pumps up sports investment

The culture minister plans a a large-scale investment intended to attract more international sporting events to Denmark

The culture minister, Brian Mikkelsen, presented a DKK 260 million investment plan Tuesday that should ensure Denmark has the necessary facilities to enable the country to host major international sporting events.

Denmark is mulling over a possible bid for the 2024 Olympic Games, but it is hindered by a lack of venues and a lack of experience hosting world championship-level events. Mikkelsen believed the investments would help correct that fault.

'These type of events require us to provide such facilities as multi-use arenas,' Mikkelsen said. 'It also requires us to provide professional organizations to run such events, an area where we lag behind other countries.'

The money is to be administered by a fund with its own board of directors. The local and city councils that want to work with private sponsors on projects such as building arenas or who merely wish to upgrade existing sports facilities can apply for support grants to cover the extra costs involved in providing venues that meet international standards.

Because foundations can negotiate and organising a variety of events, it should be possible to ensure a specific number of events that would fill the arenas for a number of years.

Though Mikkelsen said the plan would make it easier for local councils to improve their sports facilities, Henrik Larsen, the chairman of the national association of local councils' youth and culture committee, warned that attracting big sporting events wasn't so simple.

'I would love for the world championship playoffs to be held in Jutland, and it would be a fantastic experience to see the Danish men's team win gold in Kolding's sports arena, but when one takes into account that the councils already have an annual expenditure of DKK 2.8 million in this field, the government's planned investment isn't as attractive as it may seem,' Larsen told Berlingske Tidende newspaper.

Copenhagen deputy mayor Martin Geertsen said the plan, including the creation of 'sports ambassadors' to lobby international sports organisers to hold world championship events in Denmark, was a welcome supplement to the city's efforts.

'I think that it's great that we can seek economic support and advice, but we Danes are not very good at blowing our own trumpets in the international arena.'

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