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German Press Review: Losing in Leipzig

Many of Germany's newspapers on Wednesday discussed why Leipzig’s bid to host the 2012 Summer Olympic Games failed.

The Berlin-based newspaper Die Welt was not surprised that Leipzig has not been chosen to be one of the candidate cities: “It would have been a miracle if the Olympic representatives had engaged in this adventure and brought the Games to a city in Saxony which most people abroad have never even heard of.” The paper thinks that this is the true reason why Leipzig didn’t make it among the finalists and not concern about an inadequate infrastructure.

The business daily Handelsblatt from Düsseldorf disagreed. It argued that the Olympics would currently be just too big for Germany. Even if this may sound very bitter, the paper wrote, “the times when Germany could afford a prestige project like this one are over and will not return soon.” The daily points out that the country is already having a hard time accomplishing the necessary infrastructure measures for hosting the 2006 football world cup. And at the same time, it criticized, “plaster crumbles from the walls in schools and kindergartens and the streets are full of potholes.”

The Süddeutsche Zeitung suggested that Leipzig might just have been the wrong choice for the national bid. Since the city was nominated in April 2003 the members of the International Olympic Committee have been quite open in asking: “Why did you choose this place in the Eastern part of the country – why not Hamburg, Frankfurt or Düsseldorf?” Of course they understood that Germany is engaging in reconstructing the region, but why should they join investing, the paper asked, concluding: “One may regret or even condemn it, but such are the harsh realities in the Olympic billion dollar business.”

The Märkische Allgemeine from Potsdam in the country’s Eastern part viewed matters differently: Leipzig was not the wrong choice, the paper argued. The reason for the failure was rather that the Germans don’t seem capable of really joining their efforts and overcoming regional splits within the country. “It was petty jealousy”, the paper concluded, that destroyed the basic idea of “one family” which the Saxons took on for their bid.

The Mannheimer Morgen accused the International Olympic Committee of not having been truthful. Since Jacques Rogge took over the leadership of the IOC, the paper pointed out, he has reiterated again and again, that he wants to get away from the gigantic and head towards more modest games. But the IOC members in Lausanne decided very differently, the paper stated, concluding: “The flame of the Olympic summer games will burn in a metropolis, this will not change in 2012, nor in 2016, most probably it will never change.”