Bail out for Thialf ice stadium would ‘conflict with EU rules’


Hopes that the Dutch government will bail out the Thialf ice stadium in Heerenveen appear to have been dashed because direct support would conflict with EU rules.

Last week MPs urged the government to make €1m available so the sports complex, where the Netherlands’ speed skaters train, can stay open this season at least. This would enable skaters to continue their training ahead of the Beijing winter Olympics.

But now sports minister Paul Blokhuis has written to MPs, telling them that a bail out would conflict with EU rules on state support, given that the stadium is seen as an economic activity.

In October Dutch world and Olympic champion speed skaters urged the government to help the stadium, which is said to need €20m over 10 years to ensure it can continue to offer top class training and other facilities.

Sven Kramer, Ireen Wüst and Rintje Ritsma are among the skating stars who wrote to the government calling for official support.

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