Olympic bidders in close quarters; tensions escalate

Durban, South Africa – Whether by coincidence or design, the three bid teams competing to host the 2018 Olympic Winter Games find themselves in close quarters just hours before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) makes its decision on Wednesday.

Representatives from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang are all staying at the Southern Sun Elangeni Hotel on North Beach in Durban, a few minutes away from the International Convention Centre (ICC). Reportedly, so is South Korean President Lee Myung-bak who is in town to present for PyeongChang and conduct meetings with South African leaders.

That makes for a very interesting lobby and bar area on the main floor of the hotel – with Korean Presidential security, Durban police and the bid teams having conversations all in close proximity – tensions are unusually high.

Further tensions may result after Annecy 2018 leader Charles Beigbeder lashed out at his opponents during an interview with AFP on Sunday.

“Our vision is in line with what the Olympic movement would like to have now. We are here to put on an authentic Games. We are not there to get a trophy for a company or a country.” Beigbeder said, with obvious reference to PyeongChang’s relationship with sponsor Samsung and Munich’s partnership with BMW.

“We are not here for France, we are here for Olympism. Of course there would be a legacy for France, but also there would be a world legacy.”

The IOC session has begun, and with the decision-makers now available for final lobbying, the remaining two days before the election will be hectic for all involved.