The terror attacks in Paris and worries about the cost of hosting the 2024 Olympics were blamed by organisers for the rejection by 51.6 percent of Hamburg voters of the city bidding for the event in Sunday's referendum.
Polls in September had shown a large majority in favour.
“Sport in Germany is dead. It's now official,” tweeted Germany's hockey star Moritz Fürste, who won Olympic gold medals with the men's team in 2008 and 2012.
Olympic discus champion Robert Harting said it was “extremely disappointing” to see Hamburg leave Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome as the remaining candidates for the race to be decided in mid-2017 at an
International Olympic Committee meeting in Lima.
“It's a Hamburg disaster — what is the future sporting vision of the people in the country, for which I fight?,” he wrote on his Facebook page.
“The vision of McDonalds and unfit, fat children? Probably.”
In football-mad Germany, the round ball is king and there is some resentment here that the general public has turned down the chance to give the Olympic sports their chance to shine.
“If everyone is only screaming about football, football, football, and we lose the importance of athletics, swimming and gymnastics — where will we end up?” former European decathlon champion Pascal Behrenbruch told SID, an AFP subsidiary.
“You also wonder why you torture yourself everyday.”
Handball international Stefan Kretzschmar feels the voters in Hamburg failed to appreciate the chance they have now thrown away.
“Hamburg has thrown my pearls before the swine. The door to the Olympics world is now closed forever,” he said.
“This 'No' won't win us any laurels.”
Hamburg's 'No' vote has cut deep across Germany's sporting landscape as this is not the first time the public have turned down the chance of hosting an Olympics.
A referendum 'No' vote in 2013 scuppered Munich's chances of hosting the 2022 Winter Games bid, while Leipzig (2012) and Berlin (2000) failed in their bids to host previous Summer Games.
Dagmar Freitag, chairman of the Bundestag's sports committee, says questions must now be asked.
“My main concern is that we won't be talking about a future bid for years to come,” she said.
“I'm a big fan of Borussia Dortmund and football, but I'm afraid that Germany will only see large-scale football events in the future.
“A country which calls itself a fan of sports needs to offer a stage for all sports.
“I think the DSOB (German Olympic Sports Confederation), would be well advised to reflect self-critically as to why so many bids have now failed in a row.
“Maybe, those responsible thought a bid was a foregone conclusion, but that doesn't seem to be the case anymore.”