Wed, Sep 03, 2014 - Page 18 News List

Berlin, Hamburg submit low-cost Olympic models

AP, BERLIN

Outgoing Berlin Lord Mayor Klaus Wowereit, left, and Berlin Senator for Sports and Interior Affairs Frank Henkel hold a press conference on Berlin’s potential Olympics candidacy in Berlin on Monday.

Photo: EPA

Berlin and Hamburg on Monday presented low-cost models with contrasting approaches in bids to become Germany’s candidate city for the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

Both cities submitted applications to the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), which will make a decision in the next few months.

Berlin, which hosted the 1936 Olympics, proposes a decentralized Games using 15 existing sports venues. Soccer, watersports and equestrian events could also take place in neighboring states.

The still-operational Tegel Airport, due to close down once Berlin’s new international airport finally opens, is slated for use as an Olympic village. Berlin also proposes making use of Tempelhof, another former airport, now used as a city park.

Hamburg envisages a compact city layout with the main stadium, swimming pool and athletes’ village on the Kleiner Grasbrook island on the Elbe River. Most events would take place within a 10km radius.

The games in both cities would cost an estimated 2 billion euros (US$2.63 billion).

“That doesn’t include all the costs. The total costs are yet to be determined,” Berlin Mayor Klaus Wowereit said of his city’s proposal.

He estimated that costs could rise to 2.4 billion euros with inflation.

A decision on which city will bid for which games could be made at a DOSB meeting on Dec. 6 in Dresden.

Wowereit, who is stepping down after more than 13 years as mayor on Dec. 11, said a referendum on whether Berlin should bid could be held next year.

Wowereit has faced intense criticism for ongoing delays to the new Willy Brandt airport. It was first scheduled to open in 2011 and costs have more than doubled to about 5.4 billion euros.

The Berlin mayor knows that any large projects funded by taxpayers’ money will be closely scrutinized and a referendum is likely to be closely contested.

Opponents say Berlin urgently needs more money for apartments, kindergartens, schools, swimming pools and sporting facilities for everyone, not just for a major event in 14 years for a few weeks.

Voters in Bavaria in November last year rejected Munich’s planned bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics.

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