Munich’s 2022 Olympic bid rejected in referendum
FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) — Bavarian voters have turned down plans for Munich to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, in an embarrassing setback for newly elected International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach of Germany.
Early results from Sunday’s ballot gave the opponents of the Olympics a majority.
Olympic planners needed to have a majority “yes” vote in all four communities that went to the polls and which were planned as the hubs of the games, including the Bavarian capital Munich itself and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the planned site for the glamorous Alpine events.
“The vote is not a signal against the sport, but against the non-transparency and the greed for profit of the IOC,” said Ludwig Hartmann, a Greens party lawmaker and a leader of the NOlympia movement that led the campaign against the bid.
“I think all possible Olympic bids in Germany are now out of question. The IOC has to change first. It’s not the venues that have to adapt to the IOC, but the other way around,” Hartmann said.
Opponents of the Olympics won a majority in in all four communities, meaning the Olympic project won’t go ahead. Leading sports figures have been campaigning strongly for the bid but the project failed to get the approval of taxpayers. A total of 1.3 million people — 1 million alone in Munich — were eligible to vote in the ballot.
Opponents of the Olympics were concerned about environmental issues and high costs.
In Garmisch-Partenkirchen, home to many German winter sports stars such as ski champion Maria Hoefl-Riesch, 51.56 percent of the voters were against the bid, according to preliminary official results.
“We expected a very different outcome. I personally think that this was our last chance to get the winter games,” the town’s mayor Thomas Schmid said.
In Munich, 52.1 percent of those who turned out voted against the games. The other two communities voted even more decisively against the bid.
Michael Vesper, director general of the German Olympic Sports Association, said the rejection of the bid “clearly means that another Olympic bid in Germany won’t be possible for a long time.”
“I am very disappointed, this is very bitter for German sport,” Vesper said.
Munich failed in its bid to stage the 2018 Winter Games, which went to Pyeongchang, South Korea. The Bavarian capital had hoped to become the first venue to stage both winter and summer games. It hosted the 1972 Summer Olympics.
The IOC will select the 2022 host city in 2015.
Oslo, the Norwegian capital, has announced its bid, along with Lviv, Ukraine; Beijing; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and a joint bid from Krakow, Poland, and Jasna, Slovakia. Stockholm will decide next week whether to enter the race.
Thursday is the deadline for submission of bids to the IOC.