The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission completed a four-day inspection of the Munich 2018 Olympic Winter Games bid on Friday.
The full agenda included many closed-door meetings to review themes in the bid book, tours to all proposed existing and potential venues, some cultural visits and a gala reception with the German Chancellor.
Now bid organizers must wait as the 14 member IOC team lead by Gunilla Lindberg writes a comprehensive report of its findings to be published in June – one month prior to the final election in Durban, South Africa on July 6 this year.
The IOC already completed similar visits to Annecy, France and PyeongChang, South Korea last month. Bid teams from all three cities are scheduled to travel to at least seven international meetings where IOC voting members are attending before the final vote.
Munich’s plan promises a “festival of friendship”, proposes a compact Olympic Park plan for the ice events but a more dispersed and distant “Snow Park” cluster with venues one to two hours from the Olympic Park.
It was revealed this week that Munich plans to offer free Internet access to the media covering the Games in 2018 – this would be a first for an Olympic Games should the bid be elected. PyeongChang also has this offer on the table, however Annecy plans to charge a fee.
In her remarks at a press conference Friday, Lindberg described the team’s thoughts.
“[We] have been delighted to spend time in Bavaria and the vibrant city of Munich.
“We have witnessed strong government support which the bid enjoys. This was highlighted by the presence of Chancellor Merkel and other members of the cabinet.”
“This is a strong team,” she said.
Support for the bid is increasing with a recent poll showing 73% in favour of the Games while only 15% opposed. This has been the trend since popular Bid Chair Katarina Witt replaced ailing Willy Bogner last year. This momentum may be early but will be beneficial if it can be sustained until the election.
The downside is the so-called “farmers’ revolt” in Garmisch –Partenkirchen where a single landowner refuses to cede the land for Games purposes and is organizing opposition.
Munich Mayor Christian Ude criticized the group, accusing them of threatening to organize a referendum but purposely delaying because they don’t have the numbers and want to spread disinformation to harm the bid.
“These are not farmers, these are some owners of plots and only one plot in question,” Ude said.
“We will have a solution soon”, said Thomas Bach, head of the DOSB.
Lindberg said that the committee met with the farmer and the lawyer and are evaluating the situation.
Ude was upbeat on the results of the visit and confident that the bid portrayed a Games “made by athletes for the athletes.”
“Everybody could feel that sport is in the centre of Munich’s bid.”
“In terms of public support this was really a wonderful week. I never saw such a small demonstration at Marienplatz as some days ago in front of my office, this was a real very good demonstration, all the world could see how many people in Munich are opposed to our bid.”
On Wednesday, about 50 members of the group Nolympia held a protest against the Games in Munich.
“Germany is a very, very strong winter sports nation. Some would count each and every medal even to say we are the strongest winter sports nation ever. Nevertheless we have not hosted the Olympic Winter Games for 80 years. So ten generations of successful winter sports athletes have passed without having the opportunity to have the Games in this heartland of winter sports, and I think the Commission understands this quite clearly,” said Bach.
“We were able to convey the message to the Evaluation Commission that it is a good time for the IOC and the Olympic Movement with the Winter Games to recharge its batteries having been to new regions rightly so at the right time with ‘14 to Sochi and ’16 to Rio de Janeiro.
“In life you don’t always go to new shores. At some time you arrive, then you feel well when you have arrived, and then after some time you might be bored again and you go to new shores again – but you don’t always go to new shores.”
“As the CEO of this bid I am very proud of this bid,” said Bernhard Schwank.
“At the moment, I think the bid is definitely on the right track.
“We don’t want to lead the race midway, we want to lead the race at the end”, said Bach
“What counts at the end is that when you open the envelope you have the right name.”
If Munich were to be awarded the 2018 Games the city would be the first to host both the Summer and Winter versions. The last Games in 1972 were tainted when tragedy struck as 11 Israelis were murdered by a terrorist group.
When asked to comment on whether the Winter Games would bring closure, Bach said “this is not about closure; you cannot forget such a tragedy. This will be in our hearts and our memory forever and this is not about closing or forgetting.
“The whole Olympic movement was taken hostage by this terrorist attack.
“You can be sure that if Munich was granted the honour of hosting the Winter OIympic and Paralympic Games that together with the IOC and together with the international community we would find the appropriate way to remember this tragedy and to honour the victims.”
Currently at Munich Olympic Park, the memorial to the tragedy is a simple concrete block with only the names of the 11 victims written in Hebrew.
The IOC has now wrapped up its inspection of Munich and will leave Saturday.