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A Win-Win Situation for Olympic Hopefuls

Five cities are vying to be Germany’s candidate for the 2012 summer Olympics and hoping to bring more jobs and more money to their regions. But are the Games really worth much more than they’ll cost?

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The 2012 Summer Olympics could bring lots of action to Germany - and money.

Five German cities have been primping and preening themselves in the past weeks for the favor of the country's Olympic Committee.

After Berlin's disappointing failure in trying to win the 2000 Summer Olympics, Hamburg, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Leipzig and Stuttgart are fighting for the right to win a shot at the 2012 Olympics - and the financial windfall that accompanies the games.

The German Olympic Committee (NOK) has until April 2003 to pick the German candidate. Then the winner will have another two years to convince the International Olympic Committee that it’s the ideal host city. That decision doesn’t come until July 2005.

Expensive competition

The NOK estimates that candidate cities will each spend around 30 million euro just to be considered in the running. Actually putting on the Games could cost billions more.

"It depends on the existing infrastructure in the host city. If you start with a green pasture it’ll obviously be more expensive," a representative from the NOK told DW-WORLD.

The German five estimate that the Olympics will set them back between 2.4 and 3.2 billion euro if they get them. Despite assumptions that the one eastern German applicant, Leipzig, is a "green pasture," its plans actually call for less investment than the so-called city of banks, Frankfurt.

Frankfurt

View of Frankfurt's skyline

The NOK started inspecting the German applicant cities in mid-October and will wrap up the visits in late November. So far it’s been full of praise for the three cities it’s visited, Hamburg, Frankfurt and Stuttgart. Düsseldorf and Leipzig are the committee’s next stops.

Banking on past successes

There is no way of knowing how much the Games will bring in. It’s true that the most recent Olympics have been very profitable. Salt Lake City already announced that it made a meaty profit just after the 2002 Winter Olympics came to an end there.

Sydney figures that putting on the 2000 summer Games resulted in some 1.7 billion euro in business alone.

A study commissioned by the city alleges that Australia attracted 3.39 billion euro in tourist spending in 2001 thanks to the Olympics a year earlier. Not only did Sydney benefit from new business, but billions went into developing the region’s infrastructure, investments that remain long after the Games end. The study even puts a value of up to 6.4 billion euro on the international exposure the region gained.

Sporting chances

It looks like the five applicants have a lot to gain, although it is unlikely that a German city will get to host the Games in 2012. Not only will they be competing with London, Moscow, Paris, Rome and either New York or San Francisco, but a good application from a South American or African city would likely win the race, since the Olympics have never been held on either continent.

So what happens if none of the five German hopefuls get the Games? Chances are the cities will benefit anyway.

The mere process of applying opens new perspectives for many a city. City planners, politicians and business gain merely from the challenge of finding ways to make their cities Olympics-compatible.

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