Three bid cities stake claims for 2018 winter Games

Three bid cities stake claims for 2018 winter Games

Munich, Pyeongchang and Annecy brought out the big guns Monday as they fired some early shots in the battle to win the rights to host the 2018 winter Olympics, dpa reported.

   The three prospective venues, who are lobbying the Olympic family during the 2010 Games, outlined their concepts in presentations before the world's media in Vancouver.

   Both Munich and Pyeongchang had Olympians on hand to say why their cities should host the Games.

   "In Germany, it seems that winter sport is in our DNA," said Katarina Witt, a double figure skating Olympic champion and chair of the Munich 2018 bid committee.

   Kim So-Hee, 1994 short track gold medallist, was in no doubts, however, that the Korean city should win the bid.

   "They will be the most compact Games in history. Ninety per cent of athletes will be able to reach their venue within five minutes of leaving the athletes' village," she said.

   Annecy did not have any sporting celebrities to present, but the French bid organizers are confident they will have a vital ingredient - snow.

   "Annecy is in the heart of the French Alps, at half an hour from Geneva and 45 minutes from Mont Blanc. Mont Blanc, where snow is guaranteed," said Annecy mayor Jean-Luc Rigaut.

   The three bidding venues are in Vancouver as official observers by invitation of the International Olympic Committee.

   They are here to learn from the Vancouver experience but also hope to win friends in their lobbying for prospective votes before the IOC elects the 2018 host city on July 6, 2011 in Durban, South Africa.

   Munich's delegation includes Munich 2018 CEO Willy Bogner, IOC vice president Thomas Bach, who is president of the German Olympic Sports Association DOSB, Munich mayor Christian Ude and Minister of the Interior and Sport Thomas de Maiziere.

   Munich has a two-venue concept with ice events in Munich's Olympic Park and the snow competitions at Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It will be using existing venues as much as possible with three new permanent Olympic venues to be built.

   It is offering a friendly Bavarian welcome to the world in a country mad about winter sports, delegates say.

   "I believe Germany can do for the winter Games what our nation did for the 2006 FIFA World Cup," Bach said.

   However, delegates did have to bat away questions about security and the massacre at the 1972 summer Games in Munich.

   "Of course we remember the incident in 1972, but this was the rise of global terrorism in the world and every country has its experience with terrorism since. We learned from this incident. We've had more than 10,000 events in the Olympic park without any security issues," the city mayor said.

   The French government is meanwhile committed to two-thirds of Annecy's bid costs, said French Sports Minister Roselyne Bachelot.

   Some 65 per cent of facilities also exist in what would be a two-cluster system in the Haute-Savoie department based around Annecy and Mont Blanc. The Alps as the world's leading winter sports destination is a trump card.

   "We have exceptional, spectacular scenery with Mont Blanc, economic strength with one million tourists every year and so we believe that our bid is credible. We want to invite the world to a party in a world famous resort," said Annecy CEO Edgar Grospiron.

   Pyeongchang, meanwhile, will be banking on it being third time lucky after losing bids for 2010 and 2014, and that hosting the winter Games would help reconciliation between the divided Koreas.

   "Holding the winter Games in Pyeongchang would symbolise the beginnings of reconciliation of the Korean peninsula. We are all making an effort to engage between North and South Korea," said Kim Jin-Sun, governor of Gangwon province.

   Pyeongchang is the centre of Asia and the perfect place for another Asian winter Games after two previous ones in Japan (Sapparo 1972 and Nagano 1998), said Cho Yang Ho, co-chair of the bid committee.

   "We are the right time, right place, right now," he said.

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