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Alpinists hold key to Munich Olympic bid

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Alpinists hold key to Munich Olympic bid
Beckenbauer (right) and Christine Haderthauer, a Bavarian conservative politician, push for the bid. Photo: DPA
11:28 CET+01:00
Munich is preparing a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, but first the plan must pass a referendum. And one environmental group could stop play if it refuses to lend its support.

Football legend Franz Beckenbauer has publicly backed the idea of making a bid. “We need the Games,” said the 68-year-old said at a press conference in Munich on Monday. A referendum will be held on Sunday.

Beckenbauer called the campaign “an unbelievable opportunity”, and said the Olympics would give the city an invaluable image boost. The bid envisages the evens being held in Munich, the mountain resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and the districts of Traunstein and Berchtesgaden.

“Munich will have a very good chance, because last time it submitted an incredibly good bid,” he said, referring to the Bavarian city’s failed attempt to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.

The former football hero had supported that bid back in 2011, even travelling to South Africa to lobby the International Olympic Commission before the vote.

But the bid for 2018 failed and Bayern Munich's honorary president was criticised by environmental groups for his involvement. This time around environmental groups could prove a decisive stumbling block - and the German Alpine Club (DAV) could join them.

Alpinists not yet decided

The world’s largest mountain climbing association has about a million active members, and a proven track record in environmental campaigning. Yet its managers are undecided about the Olympics bid, and reports suggest the group is split on the matter. Its opposition could weaken the Olympic campaign or even collapse it entirely.

The DAV abstained from the vote when the proposal was rubber-stamped by the German Olympic Sports Confederation at the end of September. A decision is due to be made at its general meeting on the 8th and 9th November - just before the Munich referendum.

The timing of the event – on the eve of the citizens’ vote - is a coincidence according to DAV spokeswoman Andrea Händel. “Naturally it is an untimely slot,” she said.

The meeting’s 350 participants want to have their say in the group’s decision. It is unlikely that its president, Josef Klenner will take a stance before the meeting “because he does not want to [wrongly] anticipate opinion,” said Händel.

Environmental concerns

Two years ago the German Alpine Club only supported the bid for the 2018 Games after receiving assurances from organisers that additional environmental protection measures would be taken. Yet even that was not enough for its then-president Heinz Röhle who resigned because he objected to the idea on environmental grounds.

Other groups, including the Association of Bavarian Cities and the state government are standing strongly behind the bid. In their eyes the Games would be good publicity for Bavaria and give the region an economic boost.

But Greens and environmentalists are dead against the plans because of the environmental damage and high costs it would involve.

The youth wing of the German Alpine Club (the JDAV) has already rejected the idea, saying “the JDV believes that the DAV can only honour its purpose and self-image as an environmental association by opposing this huge event in the Bavarian Alps.”

READ MORE: From fencer to Olympic boss - Thomas Bach

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