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Culture

Leipzig's Olympic Bid Gets Into Gear

Leipzig hopes to be named one of the official candidate cities to host the 2012 Olympic Games on Tuesday. A who’s who of German business and entertainment have lined up behind the city’s bid.

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Will the city's residents have a reason to celebrate on Tuesday?

German rock band “Die Prinzen” is known for clever lyrics and catchy tunes, but on Tuesday, people will also find out how well they can kick around a soccer ball.

That’s because the city of Leipzig plans to unveil a promotional video using its glittering New Fair exhibition center as one of many backdrops designed to tell the world that this relatively small city, with its population of less than half a million, can compete against the likes of London, Paris, and Moscow in its bid to host the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Das neue Olympia Logo zur Bewerbung der Stadt Leipzig 2012

Leipzig's Olympic logo

The new video – which will also feature canoeist Christian Gille rowing a Venetian gondola on Karl Heine Canal in the west of the city – is designed to communicate Leipzig’s slogan: “one family.” Leipzig is working in coordination with another German city, Rostock, which lies on the Baltic Sea and hopes to host the sailing competition.

Bid backed by big business

There’s a good reason why the video is debuting on Tuesday: That’s when the International Olympic Committee, or IOC, unveils its short-list for the 2012 games. Funding for the video – and, indeed, for the bulk of the Olympic bid – is coming from some of Germany’s heaviest hitters in business and finance – including BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen, whose top executives will lend their images to a follow-up promotion if Leipzig makes the cut.

Olympia Bewerbung Leipzig

A model of Leipzig's Olympic park as designed by Dresden architect Peter Kulka

Rather than take a defensive posture regarding its small size, Leipzig is marketing this as a distinct advantage – promising to transform itself into “one big Olympic village” in a 38-page mandatory questionnaire response to the IOC.

The document also points out that 90 percent of the venues will be within a 10 kilometer (6.2 mile) radius of the Olympic Village near the city center. It adds that the city has strong backing from surrounding communities and that the metropolitan area does have a population of nearly two million.

IOC's Rogge's not making any promises

When IOC President Jacques Rogge toured the city recently, he praised Leipzig’s plan of providing accommodations in former urban villas as an intelligent and innovative idea. He also concluded that a small city has just as strong a chance of getting the bid as a larger one, and pointed out that Leipzig was receiving strong regional and national support.

Olympia Bewerbung Jacques Rogge in Leipzig

German Interior (and Sports) Minister Otto Schily with IOC President Jacques Rogge during a visit to Leipzig April 19.

Rogge singled out Lillehammer, Norway, as an example of a small city turning in a winning Olympic performance for its hosting of the 1994 Winter Games.

But he also refused to weigh Leipzig’s chances against those of any of the other eight cities vying for the games. One thing is clear: With just days to go before the big announcement, a coordinated effort by hoteliers, politicians, community leaders, and more than 100 prominent German athletes is kicking into high gear. If they get the green light, they say they’ll be ready for the race.

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