Witt talks up Munich 2018 bid

Mon, 16 May 22:47:00 2011

Munich will provide an electrifying experience for athletes if it stages the 2018 Winter Olympics, bid leader Katarina Witt has said.

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Attempting to become the first city to host both the summer and winter Games, Munich has placed great emphasis on its financial and environmental credentials.

But Witt, who won figure skating gold medals at the 1984 and 1988 Games for former East Germany, said it was the German passion for winter sports which could raise it above rivals Pyeongchang in South Korea and Annecy in France at July's vote.

"There are a lot of different strengths such as the innovative environmental concept, with a carbon-neutral Games for the first time, and another one is the atmosphere, the passion the Germans have for winter sport," Witt said in an interview.

"To come and to have the best arenas, the best conditions and, on top of it, the electrifying atmosphere ... this is something special we are offering for the athletes which will make it a memorable Games for them."

Witt, speaking two days before the official presentation of the bids before the International Olympic Committee, said Munich was hoping to reverse the recent trend of taking major sports events to new territories.

"Our belief is that it's fantastic and the right decision to keep going to new shores," said the 45-year-old of the recent decisions to award Rio de Janeiro the 2016 Olympics, Russian resort Sochi the 2014 winter Games and Russia and Qatar the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups respectively.

"It's been done with Rio de Janeiro, first time Latin America, and Sochi to open up their winter market and create for Russia a new winter sports hub.

"We believe you cannot always go to new shores, sometimes you have to come back and ... come back to the heartland of winter sports."

Witt, a four-times world champion, said Munich was prepared for a possible lack of snow as Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the proposed venue for the skiing events, proved in February when it staged the Alpine skiing world championships without a hitch despite unseasonably warm temperatures.

"It is important as well that you are able to adapt to the surroundings and still deliver the best conditions for the athletes," she said.

"Nature is not something you can rely on, globally it is changing."

Witt said she thought the Olympic spirit was still alive despite the growth and commercialism of the Games.

"You have to go with the modern times, just look at the Eurovision Song Contest (held in Duesseldorf, Germany on Saturday), there's never been a stage like this or a show like this, it's always growing," she said.

"The public's expectations are growing and events have to grow as well. Of course it's bigger size and there are more issues, athletes are more professional, they need more professional teams around them, but what always stays the same is the spirit.

"When an athlete dreams about competing at the Olympics, the same goal is still there - to compete and to hopefully one day win a gold medal, to stand on top of the podium and to hear the national anthem.

"The spirit and the fire is the same as it was 20 years ago or 40 years ago, or will be in 2018."

Reuters

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