Monday, May 9, 2011

Garmisch-Partenkirchen votes to back Munich 2018 Winter Olympic bid

Munich took a step forward to host the Winter Olympics in 2018 after locals in Garmisch-Partenkirchen voted to support the bid in a referendum on Sunday. About 21,000 people were eligible to vote. A total of 12,476 people, or 59.6% of the electorate, voted. The count in 14 districts gave the supporters of the bid a majority of 58.1% percent of the vote. "Now there is clarity in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. A clear majority of Germans would like to host the 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Munich, Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Königssee", said Thomas Bach, president of the German Olympic Sports Federation (DSB).
After the votes were counted, Christian Ude, the mayor of Munich, called on Olympic opponents in Garmisch-Partenkirchen to restore peace in the town. "Good Democrats must also be good losers", he said. In the buildup to the referendum, Ude had revealed that a no vote would be a "really bad setback" for Munich's Olympic bid.
"The Olympic bid has received momentum", said Marcel Huber, head of the Bavarian State Chancellery. Huber said that the Garmisch vote has brought clarity and that three quarters of the Bavarian population want the Games. Huber expressed his hope that the rift in Garmisch can be overcome after the referendums and also reiterated that he aims for a settlement with the landowners in further talks. "We must try and take into account all concerns and worries", said Huber.
"The result, from our point of view, shows that the majority of the population is really in favor of bringing the Olympics to Garmisch", said Bernhard Schwank, the chief executive of the Munich bid committee. "It was a very important step tonight to get this clear vote in Garmisch".
Peter Fischer, who led the Olympic supporters in Garmisch, named the victory "a clear sign for 2018" while Axel Doering from the losing Olympic opponents said they could no longer stop the bid.
The opposition in Garmisch includes a group of landowners resisting handing over their property for the Games. Others say that the resort at the foot of Germany's highest peak, the 2,926-metres Zugspitze, is simply too small with a population of 30,000 to stage an event of this magnitude. There is also concern over the financial risk. Supporters argue with badly needed infrastructure improvements in the region, saying Olympics will have a general positive effect.
Katarina Witt, a former Olympic champion and Munich's chief Olympic representative, also admitted that any discord in the German camp would have seriously threatened Munich's bid. The International Olympic Committee will only send the athletes where they "will be welcomed with open arms", said the two-time figure skating Olympic gold medalist.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a 90-minute train ride from Munich and is one of the cornerstones of the bid. Munich pledges to hold the ski events of the Games in Garmisch and an athletes' village is planned there as well. Both have seen Olympics before as the 1936 Winter Games were held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the 1972 summer edition in Munich.
Munich is bidding with Annecy and PyeongChang, for the right to host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. The election of the host city will take place on 6th July during the 123rd IOC Session in Durban, South Africa.

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