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  • On the Scene -- Munich Bid Leader Confident at Open of IOC Inspection


    Munich bid leaders hold a press conference on opening day of the IOC Commission visit. (ATR)
    Witt Reviews Day 1 of IOC Visit

    Munich 2018 chief Katarina Witt says she is "quite satisfied" with presentations to the IOC Evaluation Commission on the opening day of a four-day visit to inspect the Bavarian bid.

    "It was a tough day for all of us but the mood has been very good. Our experts were able to answer all of the questions they have asked," Witt told a press briefing.

    "We are quite satisfied and quite happy about the first day."

    Her comments came after a day of closed-door meetings for the IOC delegation with Munich 2018 officials and stakeholders.

    See and hear comments from Witt in this video.

    The 11-member IOC panel heard presentations on eight of the 17 bid book themes: vision, legacy, sport and venues, Paralympics, Olympic village, accommodation, transport, and environment.

    Witt declined to say which of the themes presented to the IOC drew most questions.

    She said the inspection was an important stepping stone towards the July vote on the 2018 host city, adding: "I don't think you win or lose with what is going to happen here.

    "But I think you can make your points clearer and over four days extensively show your program and even enhance your strengths."

    Witt added: "What you want is to know you have given your best. If we have this mood and rhythm we have today, we are in a good way."

    "I can assure you we have delivered everything we could as an entire team to hopefully cross the finish line."

    Opposition to the Bid is Minimal, Witt Says

    Asked by Around the Rings if NOlympia, the group protesting Munich 2018's plans, remained a possible stumbling block for the bid, Witt said: "I think it's really a minority not liking the idea. In all the [winter sports] competitions we are having, thousands and thousands are turning up."

    Mayor Christain Ude was also quick to confirm the public support for the bid following a small demonstration staged by NOlympia protestors in Munich's Marienplatz outside the city hall Tuesday.

    Opponents shouted "IOC go home" and handed out literature to passersby including postcards bearing anti-Games slogans addressed to IOC president Jacques Rogge in Lausanne.

    Around 50 people were registered to participate in the protest, although NOlympia leader Ludwig Hartmann told Around the Rings that 100 anti-Olympic campaigners were on site.

    Hartmann and his fellow protesters were respectful enough to wait until the traditional ringing of the famous Munich bells from the city hall rang out before launching their speeches.

    A letter seen by ATR to the IOC Evaluation Commission outlined the concerns of Hartmann and NOlympia representatives from Munich and Garmisch-Partenkirchen that were conveyed to the IOC in a 30-minute meeting this
    Munich bid leader Katarina Witt. (ATR)

    NOlympia has criticised the bid for claiming that land in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, proposed venue for Alpine and snow events, had been secured.

    "This is incorrect: 63 property owners whose land lies within the area specified in the bid book or directly adjacent to it have declared their resfusal to lease or sell their land, and a further 100 property owners have expressed their solidarity," the letter says.

    The document also makes claims of environmental destruction and false promises in conservation.

    Hartmann told ATR Nolympia had collected 500 signatures towards the required 2,000 needed to force a referendum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen that could yet derail the bid if the townspeople oppose the staging of the Games.

    "We hope to try and stop the bid for the Olympic Games," Hartmann said, adding that "it is not a problem for us [to get 2,000 signatures]. "There are no benefits for the town."

    A group of about 50 protestors turned out in Munich. (ATR)
    said NOlympia's latest opinion poll in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, conducted in January, had shown that 40 percent of the population were against the Munich 2018 bid.

    If the referendum happened, he said he was confident "the majority of people in Garmisch-Partenkirchen would vote against the Olympic Games".

    Asked by ATR why the anti-Olympics group could only muster about 50 people for Tuesday's demonstration, Hartmann suggested that city authorities made it difficult to organize large demonstrations during the week.

    In a prepared Munich 2018 statement on the demonstration, bid CEO Schwank stressed the strong support for the Olympic concept. "Headed by Chancellor Angela Merkel, Munich 2018 has outstanding cross-party political support at federal, regional and local levels," he said, adding that all the latest public opinion polls show that Munich 2018 enjoyed over 70 percent support.

    "While we support the right of this small group today to express their opposition to the bid, it has to be put into the proper perspective. These disparate minority groups represent less than 1 percent of the total population of Bavaria. By comparison, over 8 million Bavarians support the bid," he added.

    Wednesday to Garmisch

    On Wednesday, the IOC heads out on a tour of the ski venues in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, closely followed by media.

    Around 20 members of the international media are represented here; about eight are from South Korea but only one from France. In total about 180 journalists are accredited for the four-day IOC inspection, but most national media are only expected to cover the final press conference on Friday.

    PyeongChang and Annecy are competing with Munich in the race for the 2018 Olympics, which concludes with the IOC vote in Durban on July 6.

    Written by Mark Bisson

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