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Germany

Munich's Winter Olympics bid chief resigns due to illness

The man leading Munich's campaign to host the 2018 Winter Olympics has stepped down, citing illness. Willy Bogner, a former Olympic skier, will be replaced by his deputy, Bernhard Schwank.

Olympic rings on a white wall

Munich is competing against Pyeongchang and Annecy

Willy Bogner was forced to resign on Monday from his position as head of Munich's bid committee for the 2018 Winter Olympics after less than 10 months on the job. Bogner said health problems had forced him to step down.

The bid committee made the announcement in a statement, one week after the 68-year-old former skier, fashion designer and filmmaker said he was suffering from diverticulitis, a digestive disease mainly found in the large intestine.

"My illness is more serious than originally believed," Bogner, who took charge of the committee last November, explained in Monday's statement.

"I will continue to support our bid … We stand a great chance, and I hope that my dream of Olympics and Paralympics in my home area becomes a reality."

Bogner's deputy, Bernhard Schwank, has been promoted from the role of managing director to the new Munich Olympics bid committee chief.

Katarina Witt, the double Olympic figure skating champion, has been appointed presenter of the Munich campaign, while Bogner will remain part of the team, taking a position on the supervisory board.

Another setback

Willy Bogner, former head of Munich's bid committee

Bogner skied for Germany in 1960 and 1964

Munich's bid to secure the 2018 Winter Olympics has hardly enjoyed a smooth start. Richard Adam, the bid committee's first managing director, had to leave his post in March, allegedly because of internal friction with Bogner.

July was also a turbulent month for the would-be organizers, as they fought protests from local communities unwilling to host various events and tried to secure an increased budget to fund the campaign.

"We had hoped for a little bit more," Bogner admitted when the budget was increased to 33 million euros ($42.5 million) on July 15, amid rumors that he had threatened to resign from his post over the issue.

Even the state premier of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, was compelled to jump into the debate, describing the various problems as "not conducive" to the Olympic bid.

Munich is competing against Pyeongchang, South Korea and the French resort of Annecy for the Games. The International Olympic Committee will reveal the winning bid on July 6, 2011, at a planned session in Durban, South Africa.

Author: Mark Hallam (dpa/Reuters)
Editor: Martin Kuebler

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