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  • Munich 2018 Opponents Seek Referendum to Halt Bid


    02/22/11

    Alpine events would be held in Garmisch-Partenkirchen in the Munich 2018 bid. (Getty)
    (ATR) Anti-Olympic campaigners in Bavaria launch their latest attempt to force a referendum on the Munich 2018 bid, just a week before the IOC Evaluation Commission conducts its inspection visit.

    Land owners in Garmisch-Partenkirchen supporting the 'Nolympia' initiative began collecting signatures on Tuesday under efforts to force a vote to decide whether the town will back the bid. The snow events are slated to be staged at the ski resort that is about 60 minutes from Munich.

    According to German media reports, 1,700 signatures are needed to force the referendum, eight percent of the registered voters.

    Nolympia has cast doubt on the legality of some of the contracts signed by Garmisch-Partenkirchen council, including those concerning construction and financial requirements, and demand that they be objectively assessed by an independent legal expert.

    "The Olympic Winter Games are too big for Garmisch-Partenkirchen. With more than fifty events in the snow cluster there are almost five times as many events as the world ski championships," said Nolympia backer Axel Doering in a press release seen by Around the Rings.

    He said that Garmisch-Partenkirchen residents "always wanted to be able to vote on the bid for the Olympic Winter Games" but the mayor and council had rejected its demands, the council on two occasions.

    "Our goal is to win a referendum, so that the contracts be reviewed. Another goal is to finally show that the alleged "huge majority" [of support] for the Olympic Winter Games is a myth," he added.

    Munich's bid plans call for the leasing of land from private land owners for the Games.

    Last month, objectors tried to organize a citizen review of Garmisch-Partenkirchen’s role in the Munich bid but they failed to find eight percent
    Anti-Olympic organizer Axel Doering. (Getty)
    of voters to sign a petition in favor of the review.

    Ludwig Hartmann, the Bavarian state parliament member and Greens Party leader, claimed opponents were being intimidated to remain silent by those in Garmisch who favored the Olympics. The national Greens Party is leading efforts to block the Olympic bid.

    Munich bid leaders today insisted that the bid enjoys strong public support across the country.

    "We are convinced that the overwhelming majority of the population is behind the bid and opinion polls corroborate this," said a Munich 2018 statement.

    "Our latest regional polls
    Munich 2018 bid leaders believe public support in Garmisch is strong. (Getty)
    indicated that almost two-thirds of people in Garmisch-Partenkirchen are in favor of hosting the 2018 Winter Games."

    The statement acknowledged that referendums were "an important political instrument in any open and sophisticated democracy like Germany".

    It noted that there was a referendum for Vancouver organized in 2003, just months before the Canadian city won the right to stage the 2010 Games.

    "They went on to stage a memorable Winter Games with the full backing of millions of passionate fans," the statement concluded.

    But a bid by Bern for the Winter Olympics was stopped in its tracks in September 2002 by a referendum that rejected Games plans. This was after the Swiss city had been shortlisted by the IOC.

    In 1972, after Denver, Colorado had been awarded the 1976 Winter Games, a statewide referendum rejected government backing for the Olympics. Denver withdrew as host, leading the IOC to select Innsbruck as a backup.

    The 11-member IOC commission will be in Munich from March 1 to4. The commission was in PyeongChang last week, Annecy the week before.

    Written by Mark Bisson

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