Leading academics slam Hamburg Olympic bid

Leading Hamburg academics have blasted city authorities for misleading the public about the true costs of the Olympic Games they intend to host in 2024.

Leading academics slam Hamburg Olympic bid
The Hamburg Olympic bid. Photo: DPA

In a detailed report by four leading researchers in city planning, the Hamburg Olympic bid is accused of playing down possible negative aspects of hosting the games in its campaign – and even manipulating public opinion.

And 20 more academics from Hamburg's top  universities signed up, giving a potential boost to the no campaign in the run up to a city-wide Olympics referendum on November 29th.

The referendum planning has been “manipulative” while the data on how the Games would be put on is “not transparent,” the academics write.

Meanwhile the referendum question is loaded towards making people vote yes, they say.

The report criticizes several of the key claims of the bid, which wants to be the first carbon-neutral Olympic Games.

Infrastructure will have to be built for the games and then converted for later use in quick succession, demanding intensive usage of materials and energy, even though “there is no required usage after the games that could justify its construction”, the academics argue.

Meanwhile offsetting the greenhouse gas emissions caused by flying tens of thousands of athletes in and out of the city will be “extremely expensive” and hasn't been factored in, they say.

Constitutional breaches

The report goes on to attack another central claim of the 'yes' camp – that the games will be a driver of modernization.

A city has the duty to modernize anyway, say the academics – this shouldn't be a “gift “ of the Olympics. And the infrastructure built for the Olympics wouldn't match the city's needs perfectly, meaning money will be wasted.

And because the city has committed itself to reducing public debt from 2019, the costs will be borne by cuts to the social and cultural sectors, the report warns.

As well as likely increases in rents, security measures such as “the militarization” of certain areas will restrict freedoms of Hamburg residents, the report continues, warning that some of these measures will remain as a “legacy” of the games. 

“It must be asked how far the IOC [International Olympic Committee] and the event organizers will infringe upon the constitutional rights of Hamburg citizens and how long this arrangement will last.

“Hamburgers are the ones paying for these measures, they are the ones who will be affected by them, so they have a right to know about them.”

The report is also highly sceptical of claims by the bid that it will stay within its €11 billion budget.

Hamburg's ambition to be the first city in 55 years to keep to their budget is “unlikely” to be realized, the authors conclude.

A spokesperson for the Hamburg senate reacted to the report by telling the Hamburger Morgenpost: “we want to show with our campaign that Olympics can happen on a modest scale. We are encouraging democratic participation, sustainable development and fiscal responsibility.”

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Emergency numbers fail in several German states

Callers to the emergency numbers 110 and 112 weren’t able to reach operators Thursday morning in several German states.

The 112 emergency number on an ambulance.
The 112 emergency number on an ambulance. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Boris Roessler

The emergency number 110 for police and 112 for fire crews failed around the country early Thursday morning, with callers unable to reach emergency operators for urgent assistance between about 4:30 am and 5:40 am local time.

The Office for Civil Protection and Disaster Aid is looking into these outages, which were reported in states including Lower Saxony, Baden-Württemberg, and  Brandenburg, and in major cities like Berlin, Cologne, Hamburg, and Frankfurt. Cologne was further affected by cuts to electricity, drinking water, and regular telephone services. Lower Saxony also saw disruptions to the internal phone networks of police and hospitals.

Emergency services are not reporting any more disturbances and people should be able to once again reach 110 and 112 around the country as normal.

Investigators are looking into the problem, but haven’t yet established a cause or any consequences that may have happened due to the outage. Provider Deutsche Telekom says they have ruled out the possibility of an attack by hackers.