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SKIING

Munich bid for 2018 Winter Olympics fails

Munich will not host of the 2018 Winter Olympics, with games officials announcing Wednesday that the South Korean city of Pyeongchang's bid had been successful.

Munich bid for 2018 Winter Olympics fails
Photo: DPA

Pyeongchang, after failing in two previous attempts to win the sporting spectacle, beat the Bavarian capital and France’s Annecy in the first round of a secret ballot of the International Olympic Committee.

The announcement was made in Durban, South Africa, by International Olympic Committee president, Jacques Rogge.

Needing 48 votes for victory, Pyeongchang received 63 of the 95 votes cast. Munich received 25 and Annecy seven, the Associated Press reported.

South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak was first on the podium to give his country’s final pitch. He said South Korea’s bid was about “friendship, hard work and fair play.”

“I ask you for your support today so that we can finally make the Winter Olympics and Paralympics dream come true,” he said.

“I am a fellow sportsman so this is why I can appreciate, more than anyone, what the IOC and Olympic Movement have given Korea. Now we want to give back.”

The loss for Munich came despite a vigorous bid in which Chancellor Angela Merkel wrote a personal letter appealing to the committee on Munich’s behalf, saying that the Olympic bid was a “national affair” for the Germans “of significant importance.”

She also visited Durban prior to the vote, accompanied by President Christian Wulff, former Olympic figure skater Kati Witt and footballing legend Franz Beckenbauer.

“Sure, we’re very disappointed, especially after our presentation, which many IOC delegates congratulated us about,” said tearful two-time Olympic gold medalist Witt, who had been the face of Munich’s bid. “Perhaps in reality, the decision had already been taken. Right now, I am lost for words.”

While it was too soon to say if the Bavarian city will now bid to host the 2022 winter games, Munich mayor Christian Ude was quick to offer good wishes to the victors.

“I congratulate Pyeongchang and wish you every success in hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2018,” he said. “Of course, I am sad that the decision has not now fallen in our favour, but I am convinced that we submitted a strong application.”

The Koreans had led in each of the first rounds in the votes for the 2010 and 2014 Games but then lost in the final ballots to Vancouver, Canada and Sochi in Russia.

Pyeongchang, whose bid slogan was “New Horizons,” campaigned on the theme that it deserved to win on a third try and will spread the Olympics to a lucrative new market in Asia and become a hub for winter sports in the region.

This is the fifth time a German city has been rejected as hosts of an Olympic games.

Bids from Berlin and Leipzig were rejected by the IOC as hosts for the summer games of 2000 and 2012 respectively, while Garmisch-Partenkirchen, in 1960, and Berchtesgaden, in 1992, were also rejected as candidate cities for winter games.

The failed Munich bid has not come cheap. The city is still €6.5 million short of the €33 million it cost to submit the application and the shortfall will probably have to come from the public purse.

The Local/AFP/djw

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MUNICH

Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.

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