Hamburg 2024 Olympic bid rests on referendum

Hamburg 2024 Olympic bid rests on referendum
By Hugo Lowell
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Hamburg’s bid to host the 2024 Olympics rests on the outcome of a referendum Sunday, with officials hoping for a strong show of support to cement the German city as a leading contender.

The northern port city beat Berlin earlier this year to receive the country’s approval and is now proposing a compact bid plan in line with the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Agenda 2020 reforms to make a potential Games more affordable.

“We’re giving the baton to the people of Hamburg and Kiel,” German Olympic Sports Confederation (DSOB) president Alfons Hoermann said on Thursday.

“The excellent turnout that has emerged shows the Olympic Games project has been taken on by the city.”

Hamburg’s concept involves the Olympics being held in the Kleiner Gradbrook area, a short walk from the city centre to ensure short travel times to competition venues for both athletes and spectators. The nearby city of Kiel would host the sailing events.

More than 40 percent of those eligible to vote have already done so through a postal ballot, while it is understood organizers need a simple majority and at least 20 percent of the local electorate casting a vote in consent.

A dispute over costs, however, has prompted critics to question whether the €11.2 billion project would be an unnecessary financial burden on the city, which is expected to contribute some €1.2 billion toward the costs.

The continuing influx of refugees and the recent terror attacks in Paris, as well as corruption allegations surrounding Germany’s football association, have also been raised as reasons to consider not hosting the largest multi-sport event.

But a recent nationwide poll commissioned by the DOSB showed public support for the bid had risen since the Paris attacks.

“I see a clear positive tendency along the lines of ‘especially now’,” Hoermann added. “The majority seems to share our opinion that fear is not a prospect.”

Hamburg is as of yet the only city of the five candidates to put its plans to a referendum, though the IOC will conduct its own research into bid popularity or the remaining four candidates of Rome, Paris, Budapest and Los Angeles.

The IOC will decide the winner in 2017.

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