Bavarians Reject Munich 2022 Winter Olympic Bid in Referendum

Zugspitze Mountain near Garmisch-Partenkirchen
The snow-covered mountain Zugspitze stands near the Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria. Photographer: Christof Stache/AFP via Getty Images

Citizens in the southern German state of Bavaria voted against a bid by Munich to host the 2022 Winter Olympics, two years after the city made a failed attempt to stage the 2018 edition.

The majority of voters in Munich, the Alpine resort of Garmisch-Partenkirchen and the districts of Berchtesgadener Land and Traunstein rejected a potential bid in a referendum yesterday, according to preliminary results published by the city of Munich last night.

About 1.3 million Bavarians were asked to vote after officials revised the concept submitted for the 2018 games. Munich’s try for 2018 was beaten by the South Korean city of Pyeongchang. That Munich bid had overcome resistance from local groups, who cited cost and environmental concerns as reasons for their opposition.

Yesterday’s result in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where citizens voted 51.6 percent against competing for the 2022 Olympics, was the reverse of a plebiscite in May 2011 in which residents supported a plan to host a 2018 edition that purported to be environmentally friendly.

Other cities competing for the 2022 competition are Oslo, Lviv in Ukraine, and Beijing. The U.S. and Switzerland as well as the Spanish city of Barcelona have opted out of bids, according to Nolympia, a German group of environmentalists, left-leaning political parties and Attac, an activist group that campaigned against a submission.

“Olympic winter games, as a result of their sheer size, can neither be sustainable nor ‘green’,” the group said in a statement on its website. “They are a mega-event that represent a massive invasion of nature and the cultural landscapes of the Alpine region and which carry unimaginable social and financial risks.”

The scale of the rejection came as a surprise, Peter Schlickenrieder, vice-president of the German Ski Association, said in an interview on Deutschlandradio Kultur today. A “climate of fear” contributed to the opposition, he said.

Editors: Alex Duff, Tariq Panja

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