Hamburg 2024 Games bid collapses in referendum defeat

Sun Nov 29, 2015 5:33pm EST
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By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Hamburg's bid to host the 2024 Olympics collapsed on Sunday after the majority of the city's residents voted against the multi-billion euro project in a referendum, killing off the candidacy and leaving officials in shock.

Hamburg's withdrawal reshuffles the cards in the race to land the world's biggest multi-sports event, with Paris, Los Angeles, Budapest and Rome left in contention and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) decision due in 2017.

"We expected a different result," bid CEO Nikolas Hill said in a conference call. "The result nevertheless is clear for us, we have to accept it. There will be no discussion or rethinking it. That is it. That is what they wanted."

Almost 52 percent of the 650,000 votes cast went against the 7.4 billion euro ($7.84 billion) project, the second time German voters had scuppered a planned Olympic bid after Munich's failed attempt for the 2022 winter Games in 2013.

Hamburg was the only one of the five bidders to vote on whether the city should bid for the Games, with the result a major embarrassment for German sports chiefs who had insisted on another bid after the crushing defeat of Munich 2022 in the regional referendums.

"Having followed the discussions in Germany over the last weeks, this result does not come as a complete surprise," an International Olympic Committee spokesman said. "With this decision a great opportunity for the city, the country and the sport in Germany is lost."

Hamburg's withdrawal comes after four of six bid cities dropped out midway through the campaign for the 2022 winter Games, while Los Angeles replaced Boston as the U.S. choice for the 2024 summer Olympics earlier this year after the latter pulled out over financial concerns.

"The city (Hamburg) also misses the investment of the IOC of about $1.7 billion to the success of the Games, which compares to the 1.2 billion euro Hamburg wanted to invest," said the IOC spokesman.   Continued...

A general view of the Christmas market in front of the historical town hall in Hamburg, November 25, 2013. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer