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Katarina Witt says Munich has a good chance to host the Winter Olympics

Who will host the 2018 Winter Olympics? We'll find out on July 6. The candidates are Munich, Annecy and Pyeongyang. The front woman for the Munich bid is the German ice queen and two-time Olympic champion, Katarina Witt.

Katarina Witt

Witt won two Olympic gold medals for figure skating

At the start of March 2011, representatives from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will visit Munich on the last leg of their tour of candidate cities before the 2018 Winter Games are awarded in Durban in July. Competing against Munich are Pyeongchang in South Korea, which goes into the running as favorite, and French outsider Annecy. The chairman of the Munich bid is Katarina Witt. She'll be active until the final decision is announced, drumming up support for the German application at numerous international events. On a local level she's still got to resolve a controversy involving private land owners in the town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Some residents don't want to make their land available for the Olympic cause. Arnulf Boettcher spoke to the two-time Olympic ice skating champion:

DW: Katarina Witt, the IOC will make its decision in just under six months. What steps do you still have to take by then?

The people behind the Munich bid

The team have a lot of work to do before July

Katarina Witt: I'll be traveling abroad a lot, visiting competitions and conferences. That's where you get the chance to speak with the decision makers. Of course we're looking forward to the upcoming world championships in Germany. On February 7 the Alpine Skiing world championship gets underway in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The following week it's the Bob Sled world championship [February 14 to 27]. The pictures of enthusiastic spectators and the great atmosphere will go around the world. Even at the last world championships we saw that winter sports can inspire an unbelievable following. We want to win international points with that. The big task will come at the beginning of March when the evaluation board visits us. This expert body will inspect everything closely on the ground: the sports complexes, the infrastructure, and everything we're offering.

Are you optimistic that the private land owners in Garmisch-Partenkirchen will come on board?

Of course we're optimistic. It's a good sign that the main plot of land has been secured. It lies on the Kandahar run and is very important for the Alpine Skiing World Championship. There is also a written accord that we will keep talking with them.

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Fans in Berlin 2006

Fans celebrate the opening of the World Cup in Berlin in 2006

It will be a beautiful side when it gets underway and when people see how many spectators come to us from around the world and celebrate the athletes in the stadiums. I think we will be able to use these images for our purposes. We already proved that at the World Cup in 2006. I meet many, many people on my travels who really got a new impression of Germany after 2006. They saw that we know how to celebrate, enjoy ourselves and be happy - alongside our other characteristics of discipline and punctuality. We have a great opportunity to promote this image further around the globe.

And why do you think the bid will go Munich's way?

All three applicants have a real chance. One must say that. The race will go down to the last minute. You can't step back and relax. Even when it's going well, we have to keep up the momentum. We hope that the decision will go Munich's way because Munich is predestined to organize the games. There's already an Olympic legend with the buildings and all the facilities from 1972, which are still being used today and will be used in the future. Sustainability is also a big component, which the Olympic movement is looking for. Munich knows how to put on big sporting events and parties. We have proved that the German people can be enthusiastic, and fans from around the world have taken that to heart. We would like to show that once again in 2018 in Munich, if we get the bid.

Interview: Arnulf Boettcher / jli
Editor: Michael Lawton

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