Reuters reports an umbrella group of German conservation organizers withdrew from a commission Monday evaluating Munich’s bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games, saying the plans were environmentally irresponsible.
The commission was established by Munich 2018 bid organizers.
The German nature conservation ring (DNR), representing 96 environmental groups, said the bid’s plans to host part of the Games in nearby Garmish-Partenkirchen would damage the environment.
DNR General Secretary Helmut Roescheisen told Reuters, “we consider, after careful examination of the bid cities and two long talks with leading bid representatives, that the hosting of the Games in Garmish-Partenkirchen with its narrow valleys and its ecologically important areas is irresponsible. There is just far too much infrastructure work involved, what with the athletes village, the media village, even the expansion of the skiing slopes, that we just cannot be part of this commission and are dropping out of it”.
Roescheisen added, “I know the International Olympic Committee is monitoring the environmental aspects and if we as the German umbrella organization say this is unsound then there is some weight to this”.
Meanwhile, in a press release, Munich 2018 thanked the DNR “for their constructive collaboration over the past 19 months”.
According to the press release, the specialist environmental commission had their latest meeting August 6 and Munich 2018 said it was able to revise and polish a very strong environmental concept utilizing all recommendations from the DNR. Prior to that there had been several summit talks at which specific joint projects were agreed between the German NOC (DOSB), the DNR, and the bid committee. The latest suggestions from the specialist environmental commission have been included in the final proposal for the Candidature File which is to be approved at the beginning of October by the elected representatives of the respective city and community councils, and the Bavarian government.
Dr. Michel Vesper, head of the Munich 2018 Supervisory Board said, “the DNR has enriched the bid’s sustainable environmental concept with many good ideas, constructive comments and suggestions. Minimal land use, renewable energies, use of existing venues and the protective management of nature are the foundations of the Munich 2018 environmental and sustainability concept”.
Several key projects proposed for Munich 2018’s environment strategy were agreed upon, and the bid committee said it is disappointed by the timing and nature of the DNR withdrawal from the specialist environment commission for the bid.
Bernhard Schwank, CEO of Munich 2018 said, “we are still working together with the Sport University Cologne, the Ecological institute and other partners in the commission, to finalize our strong sustainability concept which will be presented in the next few weeks. The vision of environmentally friendly Games has in no way been damaged – on the contrary, it remains innovative and robust”.
Vesper added, “our door will always be open to the DNR and we will continually seek and act on their advice. Furthermore we invite all associations to be involved in future deliberations, offering suggestions for improvements and highlighting possible opportunities to advance our environmental planning”.