Olympics 2008 News
Olympic 2018 bidders make vital pitches at IOC
By Sven Busch May 18, 2011, 15:10 GMT
Lausanne, Switzerland - Pyeongchang, Munich and Annecy made vital pitches for the 2008 Winter Olympics at the International Olympic Committee on Wednesday as the bidding race entered the home straight.
The three candidates presented their bids in 45-minute sessions to 89 of 108 IOC present at a technical briefing behind closed doors in the Olympic Museum.
All cities also have exhibitions which will be visited by IOC members on Thursday.
'Today all three cities made impressive presentations,' said IOC president Jacques Rogge, who expects a close race when the host city is elected in a secret ballot by the IOC on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.
The technical briefing, held only for the second time, is considered a very crucial part of the two-year bid process, possibly more important than the final pitch on election day - even though the latter draws heads of state and other dignitaries to advocate their city's bid.
Pyeongchang is considered favourite to land the Games after narrowly missing out for 2010 and 2014. Munich are the main challenger while underdogs Annecy hope to have closed the gap on Wednesday.
Pyeongchang presented what it named 'the most compact venue concept in Olympic history' and told the IOC members that the Games there would open a new winter sport market in Asia.
The South Koreans' star attraction was figure skating Olympic gold medallist Kim Yu Na.
Kim admitted she was more nervous than while competing last year at the Vancouver Games after telling the Olympians that Games in Pyeongchang 'would inspire a new generation of athletes in Asia.'
However, Kim was competing against the two-time Olympic figure skating champion Katarina Witt, who is chair of Munich's bid.
Munich's pitch centred on its 'two-park' concept, Germany's proud winter sports tradition and enthusiasm, a big sponsor market and the environment, while IOC members also asked the team about the terrorist attack on the Israeli team when the city hosted the 1972 summer Games.
'I told them that Munich will never forget it and that it has sunk deep into our memory, and that the attack was not the result of a local conflict but the first terror attack in Olympic history. It could have happened anywhere,' said Munich mayor Christian Ude.
Witt said 'it would be nice if every offered congratulation would also be a vote (for Munich).'
The German camp was further bolstered by the news that a dispute over a final piece of land needed for the Games has been ended, and that German President Christian Wulff will come to Durban for the final pitch.
Munich aims to become the first city to stage winter and summer Games while Annecy wants to bring back the Games to the French Alps for the first time since Albertville 1992.
'I think we are all even now,' said French ski legend Jean-Claude, hoping to have made up considerable ground on the frontrunners.
However, outside the Olympic Museum a group of around 25 activists voiced their opposition to an Annecy Games.
'No to 2018 Olympic Games in Annecy,' said a huge banner.
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