German officials tout joint 2036 Olympic bid from Berlin and Tel Aviv to soften anniversary

Top German sports officials last week declared their vision of a joint 2036 Olympic bid between Berlin and Israel’s Tel Aviv.

Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)

Olympic Rings hang cliffside overlooking PyeongChang 2018 Ski Jump venue (GamesBids Photo)

In an op/ed published by Berliner Morgenpost Saturday, German Olympic Association president Richard Meng and German athletics official Frank Kowalski proposed that the joint Games on the 100th anniversary of the infamous Berlin 1936 Nazi-hosted Games would show “a strong signal of peace and reconciliation” between the capitals.

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) has been under mounting pressure domestically after a string of failed bid attempts that have often ended before crossing the starting line.  Most recently, officials behind a regional Rhine-Ruhr 2032 bid were caught unprepared when Brisbane was surprisingly named the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) preferred candidate, virtually assuring that the Australian city will be named host later this year.

It is widely understood that a German bid to host the subsequent Summer Games in 2036, on the anniversary of Hitler’s propaganda-fueled edition, would present bad optics for both Germany and the IOC.

“This is indeed a difficult date for Germany and Berlin, given the Nazi Games of 1936,” officials wrote.

“Is the date alone therefore a reason for abandonment?

“You can also look at it the other way around.  2036 could show what has changed and still has to change.”

But such tokenism is most likely an attempt to whitewash the painful anniversary and keep Germany in the hunt for the next available Games.

Meng and Kowalski propose staging sailing and surfing in the Mediterranean and other sports such as beach volleyball inside Tel Aviv.

The authors admitted, however, that the proposal was more of a dream.  They wrote “It’s a vision, nothing more.”

In a statement, the Israeli Olympic Committee said they support the hosting of the 2036 edition of the Games in Germany, but fell short of endorsing a joint project.

“Holding the Olympics in Berlin, 100 years after Hitler’s 1936 Olympics, will remind us all of the dark times we experienced and send a strong message to the world of the values we must uphold,” it read.

Berlin’s sports and interior minister Andreas Geisel is in support of the joint bid, telling Berliner Morgenpost that “of course [it would be] a strong sign for peace and international understanding – in full awareness of our painful history and the abominable misuse of the Olympic idea by the National Socialists.”

The two capitals support “openness to the world, freedom and tolerance.  These are the messages that radiate from a joint bid for the Olympic Games.”

In 2001 the Israeli government budgeted USD $1.37 million for a two-year feasibility study on hosting a future Olympics.  In 2008 it was concluded that Tel Aviv would prepare for a 2048 Games commemorating the nation’s 100th anniversary.

Tel Aviv Considers 2048 Summer Games Bid

Under reformed IOC bidding rules, joint national bids and regional projects are now permitted, and proposals for the 2036 Games could enter into a dialogue with the Future Host Commission immediately.  There are no longer set timelines for the election of Olympic hosts.

Berlin lost its 2000 bid to host the Games, and more recently Germany’s Hamburg withdrew from the 2024 race after losing a public referendum and Leipzig failed to make the 2012 IOC shortlist.

For the Winter Games, Munich was defeated by PyeongChang in its 2018 bid and was prevented from moving forward a 2022 project after losing a referendum.

Germany last hosted the Olympics in Munich in 1972, a Games that was marred by tragedy when 11 members of the Israeli team were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.  Israel has never bid for, or hosted the Games.

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.