Hamburg withdrew from the race to host the 2024 Olympics after residents voted against the German port city’s bid plans in a public referendum Sunday.
Opponents to the bid took 51.6 percent of the vote, despite the nearby town of Kiel, which would have hosted the sailing events, offering their support with 65.6 percent in favour.
“We expected a different result,” bid CEO Nikolas Hill said in a conference call. “The result nevertheless is clear for us, we have to accept it. There will be no discussion or rethinking it. That is it.”
“The result is a bitter pill for us to swallow, but a democratic decision must simply be accepted. We have always said that the candidacy can only be successful if it is really desired and supported by the citizens.”
Hamburg’s rejection is now the second time in two years German voters have dashed hopes for a planned Olympic bid, with Munich failing to receive enough support for a bid to host the 2022 winter Games.
“The attacks in Paris, the (German World Cup 2006) affair, the refugee situation, the doping scandals. They did not have anything to do with this but it has been irritating and disturbing people,” Hill said.
Germany’s football association is currently under investigation over a £6.7 million payout to governing body FIFA, that was allegedly used to secure votes for the 2006 World Cup bid, while more than one million refugees are expected to enter the country this year alone.
Organizers had calculated the cost of hosting an Olympics to be €11.2 billion, with Hamburg taxpayers expected to contribute €1.2 billion.
Bid critics questioned whether spending such a sum in the world’s largest multi-sport event was a priority.
The rejection would have also come as a blow to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who last year voted in the wide-ranging Agenda 2020 reforms aimed at making the Games more attractive to host cities.
An IOC spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.
The binding decision taken now leaves the four candidates of Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles as the only bidders for the 2024 Olympics, with the IOC picking a winner in 2017.
Image Credit: Deutscher Fussball-Bund