IOC ends evaluations with Munich

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IOC ends evaluations with Munich


Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC commission for the 2018 Winter Olympics, center, meets with members of the Munich bid committee on March 3. Munich is considered Pyeongchang’s main competitor to host the Games. [YONHAP]

MUNICH - Germans have a reputation for being meticulous and precise.

And now so does the country’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics in Munich. For the International Olympic Committee evaluation commission, the Munich bid committee proved that Germany has more to offer than pretzels, sausage and beer.

The 14-strong IOC commission ended its month-long marathon evaluation schedule on Saturday after flying from Annecy, France, to Pyeongchang, Gangwon, and finally to Munich.

Now the commission will work on a report for the IOC membership to be published May 10, shortly before a technical briefing from May 18-19 at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

After a heavy question-and-answer session and final presentations by the three bidders, the IOC will make its decision on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.

And though Pyeongchang is widely seen as having a solid chance to win the bid, Munich may be its toughest competition, with Thomas Bach, incumbent vice president of the IOC, leading the bid, and legendary figure-skating star Katarina Witt chairing the city’s bid committee.

So, Gunilla Lindberg, head of the IOC commission, had good reason to call Munich a “highly professional team” at a March 4 press conference at the century-old Munich city hall.

Lindberg also praised Munich for being a “city which hosted a lot of sports competitions,” echoing Bach’s assertion that Germany is the “heartland” of winter sports.

Bach sang to this winter-heartland tune until the end, wrapping up the press conference by saying: “I’m pretty sure that we managed to convey the message that this would be a good time for the IOC to recharge its batteries after having been to new regions - and rightly so in the cases of both Sochi [2014 Winter Games] and Rio [2016 Summer Games].”

This was a replay of what he told the Korea JoongAng Daily earlier last week, saying there are “certain cycles” in Olympic bidding and there are times for “new territories.”

Bach added: “Now’s the time to recharge [the] Olympic battery by going back to the roots.”

This “new territories” argument is an unmistakable reminder of Pyeongchang’s slogan, “New Horizons,” as the South Korean city’s major strategy is to find a new market for winter sports in Asia.

Despite being an unquestionably “strong” bid, as Lindberg put it, Munich has its own share of headaches and potential problems.

For example, some farmers in the Garmisch-Partenkirchen region - which would be a major snow venue near Munich - are not willing to give up their land for Olympic venues.

This has snowballed into a “Nolympia,” or “No Olympics,” campaign led by Ludwig Hartmann, a Green Party representative in the German Parliament, who told the Korea JoongAng Daily on March 1 that the “2018 Munich Games [will be] a catastrophe to the environment.”

But the IOC drew a line in the sand at the March 4 press conference, as Gilbert Felli, the IOC executive director for Olympic Games, said the land dispute is “only in one part” of the region and Munich is still a “feasible” choice to organize the 2018 games.

Bach and the Munich bid committee are also trying to turn a tragedy into a permanent and lasting positive by playing to one of IOC President Jacques Rogge’s favorite two words: “Olympic legacy.”

Bach said that the 2018 Winter Games in Munich would be “an appropriate way to remember the victims” of the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics massacre - when a group of Palestinian terrorists broke into the city’s Olympic Village, took 11 Israelis hostage and eventually killed them all.

But Munich will have tough competition from its main rival Pyeongchang, especially now with the news that Korea’s figure-skating queen, Kim Yu-na, will join the Korean city’s bid committee as early as April, after the Tokyo World Figure Skating Championships in late March.

Kim will add star power and grace to a bid that will need every ounce of help to be chosen as host in its third time bidding - Pyeongchang bid for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics but just missed out on both tries.

By Chun Su-jin []

Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

겨울올림픽 반대 시위에 속타는 뮌헨

2018년 겨울올림픽 유치에 도전하는 강원도 평창의 강력한 맞수 독일 뮌헨이 반대 시위로 골머리를 앓고 있다. 국제올림픽위원회(IOC) 평가단이 지난달 28일(한국시간)부터 실사에 들어간 가운데 유치 반대 세력이 1일 뮌헨 한복판 마리안 광장에서 시위를 벌이는 등 실력 행사에 나섰다.

유치 반대 세력의 선봉은 뮌헨이 속한 바이에른 지역 의회의 녹색당 멤버인 루드비히 하트만을 포함한 가르미슈파르텐키르헨 지역 농민들이다. 농민들이 고용한 변호사인 루드비히 자이츠 측은 본지와의 통화에서 “겨울올림픽이 열리면 농민들의 토지가 경기장과 안전지대 건설용으로 넘어가야 한다. 이는 농민들이 원하는 바가 아니다”라고 말했다.

녹색당은 지난해 11월 뮌헨의 2018년 겨울올림픽이 환경·생태에 악영향을 미칠 수 있다는 이유로 반대안을 가결한 바 있다. 하트만을 주축으로 한 반대세력은 지역 주민 2만6000명을 상대로 반대 서명운동에 돌입했다. 전체 주민 중 1700명의 서명을 받아낼 경우 주 정부에 유치 여부를 결정하는 주민투표를 실시하라고 요구할 수 있다.

설상 경기가 열릴 예정인 가르미슈파르텐키르헨 지역 환경단체는 1일 인터넷 사이트(에서 겨울올림픽 유치를 반대하는 18가지 이유를 밝혔다. ‘노(No) 올림픽’이라는 의미로 웹주소를 ‘놀림피아(nolympia)’로 정한 이 사이트에서는 올림픽을 유치하면 심각한 환경 파괴가 예상되고 경제적인 부담이 매우 크다는 점을 강조했다.

뮌헨 유치위원회의 토마스 바흐 IOC 부위원장은 본지와의 인터뷰에서 “독일인들이 완벽한 것을 좋아하다 보니 작은 부분이라도 마음에 들지 않으면 반대를 하는 것”이라며 “가르미슈파르텐키르헨 지역에서 스키 월드챔피언대회가 열릴 때도 비슷한 문제가 있었지만 대회 개막 6주 전에 해결했다. 뮌헨은 7년이나 남았다”며 여유를 보였다.

하지만 독일의 옌스 와인라이흐 IOC 전문기자는 “상황이 심상치 않다. 뮌헨은 유치 경쟁에서 선두를 달리고 있다고 자부하지만 반대가 전혀 없었던 평창과 비교할 때 실사단에 좋은 영향을 줄 리 없다”고 지적했다. 미국의 IOC 전문기자는 익명을 전제로 “IOC 입장에선 경기 티켓 판매 등을 고려할 수밖에 없고, 따라서 지역주민의 지지가 중요한 고려 요소”라고 말했다. 2018년 겨울올림픽 개최지는 7월 6일 남아프리카공화국 더반 IOC 총회에서 결정된다.

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