Decision makers arrive in Durban; Bid teams begin final sprint for the 2018 Olympic bid

Durban, South Africa – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) begins its 123rd session in Durban, South Africa Monday, but the cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Games have already been hard at work here for days, preparing for the final pieces of the two-year campaign. Now, the important people that they’re working hard to impress and those they need to impress upon others are trickling into town.

Some of the high profile dignitaries who will have a say in the 2018 bid election include Britain’s Princess Anne, The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, The Netherlands’ Prince of Orange, the Crown Prince of Denmark, Prince Faisal of Jordan and newly married Prince Albert of Monaco who will be traveling with Princess Charlene so that they can hold a wedding reception in Durban later in the week.

Others are also arriving to support the bids from their countries and they Include German President Christian Wulff, French Prime Minister Francois Fullon and South Korean President Myung-bak Lee.

Lee has already arrived and spent Sunday morning at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) rehearsing his role in the PyeongChang 2018 final presentation. While in Durban Lee has planned a summit with South African leaders, but the time he spent with his bid team shows genuine dedication to the bid.

Meanwhile, Munich kicked things off Sunday with a press conference that was very well attended and got the attention of South Korean journalists and broadcasters who arrived in droves. Munich Mayor Christian Ude arrived directly from the airport shortly before the conference; he was scheduled to arrive a day earlier but was delayed due to an undisclosed illness.

“I will say that I have a touch of Olympic fever,” Ude remarked jokingly.

The race has been perceived as a battle between PyeongChang and Munich, with Annecy as the outsider, but Bernhard Schwank, CEO of Munich 2018 rejects that analysis.

“Don’t forget anyone in this race,” Schwank told reporters.

“Don’t underestimate any competitor in the race, it’s like in sport, until the last second there is a chance for everyone.”

Schwank believes the IOC’s goal on July 6 should be “to get the best solution for the athletes in 2018.”

“We would be a little proud to be the first city of the world that organizes the Summer and Winter Games,” Ude added.

The IOC session begins with meetings on Monday; the opening ceremonies will be Tuesday night and the election of the 2018 Olympic host city will be all day Wednesday.