Opponents to Munich's bid for the Winter Olympics have begun collecting signatures to stop the event from encroaching on their town. Garmisch-Partenkirchen is slated to play a key role in the Games should Munich win.
Some land owners say the games will harm the local environment
Land owners in the Bavarian ski-town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen started collecting signatures on Tuesday to force a referendum on whether their town will support Munich's bid for the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.
The "Nolympia" initiative has to collect 1,700 signatures in the town of 26,000 order to make the referendum a reality. Close to 3,000 residents signed an informal list last summer calling for the referendum.
The initiative comes as an Olympic evaluation committee prepares to visit Munich in just six days.
Olympic organizers want to lease land from private owners in Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the Games. Some residents believe that leasing their land would jeopardize the financial and environmental stability of their small town.
"The Winter Olympics are too large for Garmisch-Partenkirchen," said Axel Doering, one of the initiators of the referendum.
Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a renowned ski resort, would play a key role if Munich were to win the bid for the 2018 games. Half the events would take place there.
However, Olympic organizers in Munich remain unfazed by opposition from land owners.
"Even if the handful of land owners who are involved in our plans decide not to cooperate, we can guarantee the availability of the areas we need," Bernhard Schwank, the CEO of Munich's bid committee, told ZDF television.
Author: Spencer Kimball (dpa)
Editor: Nancy Isenson