An innovative plan by officials from the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia has outlined a bid to host the 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games that would be centered in the state capital city of Düsseldorf but includes many venues in 13 cities across Western Germany.
The concept has been named the “Rhine Ruhr Olympic City.”
The plan, unveiled Friday by sports event manager Michael Mronz, has been in the works for months and includes 80 per cent already existing venues for the Games including 16 large stadiums and almost 150,000 hotel beds. It focuses around sustainability, Mronz said, and aligns with the International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 which allows for a broader footprint of venues in order to encourage the use of existing infrastructure.
“If this succeeds, it would be a huge thrust for the country,” said State President of North Rhine-Westphalia Armin Laschet on Friday in Düsseldorf.
The plan includes a large proportion of the venues in Düsseldorf and Cologne, but several events will be held in 11 other cities across North Rhine-Westphalia including Aachen, Bonn, Dortmund, Duisburg, Essen, Gelsenkirchen, Krefeld, Leverkusen, Mönchengladbach, Oberhausen and Recklinghausen.
The comprehensive venue layout even includes a proposed facility in Bonn for Baseball, a sport that is not required on the Olympic program but has been added by the organizing committee as an optional sport at the Tokyo 2020 Games.
Germany’s strategy comes in wake of the IOC’s approval to award both the 2024 and 2028 Olympic Games to Los Angeles and Paris at the same time on September 13 in Lima, Peru. The organization opted to elect both bids due to their sustainable plans that include venues that are mostly existing or temporary – and venue strategies that see facilities tightly clustered and transport accessible.
After seeing four-of-six cities drop from the 2022 Olympic Winter Games bid and three-of-five cities from the 2024 race – mostly due to fears of costs and risks – and due to the cost and corruption experienced in the run-up to the Sochi 2014 and Rio 2016 Games, the IOC is happy to secure less-risky plans that both offer excellent athlete and spectator experiences.
It is also hoped that successful back-to-back Games will help usher in a new era of responsible hosting of the Olympic Games.
But what hasn’t been considered is what happens after both mega-cities have hosted. Are there other such capable cities out there in this new era of the Olympic Movement?
Germany’s option would lessen the risk that the IOC fears, but the widespread plan is poised to damage the overall athletes and Games experience that is core draw of the Olympic Movement. There are no details in the plans that describe the Olympic Village, but with over one-hour travel time between Düsseldorf and many venues, transportation and the use of a single Olympic Village could be a concern.
Yet the IOC has recently shown a willingness to sacrifice a compact plan to reduce costs, something they’ve demonstrated by allowing modified plans for the Tokyo 2020 Games. If the plan for North Rhine-Westphalia is embraced, it could be the model necessary to enable mid-sized cities to again host the Olympic Games.
But the local constituents will need to convinced in advance that the model is viable and will not result in cost over-runs as the proposed bid is likely to face a referendum. After Leipzig was dropped from a shortlist for the 2012 Games and Munich lost its bid to host the 2018 Winter Games, Munich’s proposed 2022 bid was overturned by a referendum and later Hamburg dropped from the 2024 race when voters said ‘nein’ to the plans.
“If we want to inspire people with the theme of Olympic Games, then we have to get away from the giganticism. People were not told enough about what they got,” Mronz said of the lost referendums.
— Staatskanzlei NRW (@NRWpunktDE) July 14, 2017
Mronz said financial details of the bid would be available in two to three years.
With applications for the 2032 Olympic Games likely due in 2023, a successful run-up to the 2024 Games by either Los Angeles or Paris will be critical to convince voters that the IOC has indeed steered the Olympic Movement in the right direction – and that cost-cutting is a priority.
Australia and India are also looking into the possibility of bidding for the 2032 Games, yet no specific plans are currently in the works.
The IOC, along with Los Angeles and Paris are working ahead of a mid-August deadline to strike a tripartite deal that would determine the hosting order of the 2024 and 2028 Games. In the unlikely possibility that an agreement is not reached, the IOC could award only the 2024 Games, leaving 2028 back up for grabs.