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  • IOC Praises Passion for Munich 2018 Winter Olympic Bid


    IOC Evaluation Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg. (ATR)
    (ATR) IOC Evaluation Commission chair Gunilla Lindberg says her inspection team has "absolutely felt the atmosphere and passion" for the Olympics at the end of its four-day inspection of the Munich bid.

    Describing Munich as a "vibrant city", Lindberg told a news conference Friday: "The general impression is that it is a strong bid with strong governmental support.

    "It is a good team on the bid committee and Germany is a big winter sports country used to organizing competitions."

    Asked if she and her colleagues had felt that a Munich Games would be a "Festival of Friendship" during their stay, she replied: "Yes, absolutely we did. We visited a lot of proposed venues for the Games, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the Olympic Park and we felt the atmosphere and passion for the Olympic Games."

    The Swedish IOC member admitted that the tour of the Olympic Park had served as a reminder of the tragedy at the 1972 Games when Palestinian terrorists killed 11 Israeli athletes in what was known as the Munich Massacre. Lindberg was one of the three members of the commission who took part in the 1972 Olympics; Japan's Tsunekazu Takeda and New Zealand's Barry Maister were the others.

    "We had mixed feelings. I think all of us remembered with sadness what happened but we also remembered it was well organized," she said.

    "It was a tragedy what happened in '72 and we will always remember that. But the IOC took the decision to go on with the Games and I think that was the right decision."

    Munich is aiming to become the first city to stage both summer and winter Olympics, following the 1972 Games.

    The Swedish IOC member, who faced the media with Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli, declined to say what she was most impressed with and said there were no true surprises.

    Lindberg and IOC Olympic Games executive director Gilbert Felli lead the commission's press conference. (ATR)
    "Munich is a city that has hosted a lot of sports competitions," she said, referencing venue tours to the proposed snow venues in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and ice venues at the Olympic Park. "So we have not really seen any big surprises."

    Felli brushed aside concerns over a land-owners' dispute in Garmisch-Partenkirchen where a handful of farmers have registered their opposition to use of their land for a Munich Games. "We have studied carefully the concerns of the farmer and we have met with the lawyer and other [opposition groups, such as NOlympia]. They are in discussions [with the bid team]."

    Friday marked the conclusion of the IOC inspection team's three-city tour of the 2018 winter Olympic bids, following visits to Annecy and PyeongChang in the past month.

    Lindberg's comments came after the IOC's four days of closed-door briefings with Munich 2018 officials and venue tours. Through the visit, the bid team presented the 17 themes of the bid book, including finance, sports venues, government guarantees, transport, environment, security and marketing.

    Under sunny skies this week, they visited the Alpine ski venues in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the 1972 Munich Olympic Park, where venues will be converted for Winter Olympic use and the sliding center at Koenigssee.

    The 11-member IOC delegation also met with German chancellor Angela Merkel and the new interior minister in charge of sport, Hans-Peter Friedrich, at a state banquet last night.

    In his first 24 hours in the job, Friedrich dined with the IOC commission and this morning presented to its members. Friedrich offered federal government's guarantees on finance and underlined its total commitment to Munich staging the Games.

    Munich 2018 Bid Chiefs Happy with IOC Evaluation

    Looking exhausted but satisfied with a job well done, Munich's bid chair Katarina Witt said she was pleased the bid had been able to get across its vision to the commission. "It's been a tough week, only a little bit of sleep but enjoyable."

    "We were pleased to present the venues and I could see in a lot of them that they are quite impressed that they are there," she told a news conference after the IOC press briefing.

    "They see how much passion in Germany goes into winter sports. We were really able to bring across our concept... a compact concept, good for athletes, minimum waste and maximum atmosphere. I just hope they
    Munich bid leaders at their wrap-up press conference. (ATR)
    were overwhelmed."

    IOC vice president Thomas Bach said he was pleased with the "chemistry" between the bid team and evaluation commission "and we were able to convey our message that Germany is a very, very strong winter sports nation".

    "We have not hosted a winter Games for 80 years... 10 generations of winter sports athletes have passed without having the Games in this heartland of winter sports and I think the commission understood this quite clearly," he said.

    "This is a bid with no risk, but fun."

    Bach insisted that 2018 was a good time for the IOC and Olympic Movement to bring the Games to the traditional winter sports city of Munich to "recharge the batteries after having been to new regions, with 2014 to Sochi and 2016 to Rio".

    Asked where he though Munich was in the bid race, he said: "Where we are is difficult to say. We don't want to leading midway, we want to lead at the end."

    Bid CEO Bernhard Schwank told the news conference that he was sure a resolution would be reached soon with in land-owners' dispute in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.

    "With this tailwind from this week, we are well prepared and I guarantee our team is working very hard until the final run in Durban on July 6," he added.

    Next stop for Munich 2018 and its rival bids for the Winter Games is SportAccord in London next month.

    The April 3-8 convention gathers 1,500 leading representatives from the Olympic Movement and will give the 2018 bidders the chance to push their bid concepts to IOC members as well as leaders of international sports federations and national Olympic committees.

    The IOC Evaluation Commission's report on the three bidders for the 2018 Games will be published on May 10 to allow IOC members to digest the bid plans before the Bid Cities Briefing in Lausanne, May 18-19.

    It's here that Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang will pitch their Winter Olympic plans to most of the 115-plus IOC membership, a good number of whom they will seek to meet in private meetings in efforts to win their support.

    Written by Mark Bisson.

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