Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2015: #5 – Hamburg 2024 Olympic Bid Toppled By Referendum presents the eighth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2015. These stories impacted the course of Olympic host city bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plot lines and story arcs for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st as the year ends – click on the links for details.

Hamburg 2024 bid opponents interject a "NO" adjacent to the human Olympic ring emblem (Photo from Twitter)

Hamburg 2024 bid opponents interject a “NO” adjacent to the human Olympic ring emblem (Photo from Twitter)

Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2015: #5 – Hamburg 2024 Olympic Bid Toppled By Referendum

After failed bids for the Olympic Winter Games by Munich – a loss for 2018 and defeated referendum prior to the a 2022 run – Germany’s National Olympic Committee (DOSB) launched a campaign to host the 2024 Summer Games, its first such attempt since Leipzig missed the short list during the 2012 bid.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach is a German citizen, and under his new Agenda 2020 reforms the timing seemed right.

Domestically in March, the DOSB elected Hamburg over rival city Berlin in part because of better public support polling but it soon became apparent the same public support could become a significant problem.

Just as the bid was appointing its leadership and getting a campaign underway, a referendum on the bid was scheduled to be held November 29 – a significant date since it followed the IOC application deadline and a loss would mean that no other German city would be able to replace it.

Polling showed positive results throughout the summer with as many as 64 per cent showing their support but as the referendum approached organized German bid opposition NOlympia, who were instrumental in Munich’s demise, campaigned to narrow the gap.  They received help from experienced international opposition that helped derail the Boston 2024 and Krakow 2022 bids.

The November Paris terrorist attacks and sport scandals involving FIFA corruption and Athletics doping soured the Olympic brand and revealed significant risks – these occurring just days before the referendum was held.

Ultimately the bid was defeated by a narrow margin and Hamburg was forced to withdraw from the race leaving a slim field of four candidates including Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.

While the narrow referendum defeat was a compelling story on its own, the results revealed that Agenda 2020, an idea conceived by a German to revive interest and faith in the Olympic Games, had not been as effective as hoped.  It was a blow to Bach who may now lose the chance to see the Olympic Games hosted on his home soil during his presidency, and who must now work even harder to bring trust back to the Olympic brand.

Watch or follow us on Twitter or Facebook for Top Bid Stories #10 to #1.  They’ll also be listed, as they’re revealed, below.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.