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Opinion

Opinion: Why Germany should back Hamburg

Germany's Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) wants Hamburg to be Germany's Olympic city in 2024. DW sports editor Stefan Nestler thinks it is a good idea, and hopes Germans will get behind it.

There's no doubt about it, Berlin would have been capable of hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics. But there were just too many arguments for Hamburg, so that's the way the DOSB decided. One of the main reasons was Hamburg's higher level of enthusiasm for the Olympics. Nine percent higher to be exact.

According to the polling institute Forsa, 64 percent of all Hamburg residents wanted the Olympics. In Berlin it was "only" 55 percent. The importance of citizen support in an Olympic campaign bid was clear to see in Munich's two failed attempts to bid for the 2018 and 2022 Winter Olympics. In Japan's capital Tokyo, the 2020 Olympic games had a support rate of 77 percent. In Rio de Janeiro, 85 percent of the population was in favor. It's clear: the International Olympic Committee looks closely at what the citizens of a bidding city really want.

Hamburg's reputation of wealth

And, of course, finances play a role, too. Hamburg is also in debt, but things aren't as bad as in Berlin. The capital is losing money hand over fist, with its delayed mega airport, which still isn't finished. The losses are even worse than on Hamburg's overly-expensive Elbphilharmonie concert hall. "If Berlin can't even finish its airport, how will they be able to get their city ready for the Olympics?" the IOC decision-makers would have probably asked themselves.

DW sports editor Stefan Nestler

DW sports editor Stefan Nestler

Hamburg, by comparison, still has a reputation for being wealthy, even though the city's coffers are pretty empty. 42,000 millionaires live in the Hanseatic city - more than in any other German metropolis.

Compared to Berlin, Hamburg is considered reliable and more predictable than the capital, and that suits the IOC functionaries. They don't like to have to deal with problems; they just like kicking back and enjoying the show.

Nothing comes free

Hamburg now has the responsibility, and it will need to spend money. Everyone needs to be clear about that: sports events of this size just can't be done for free. It doesn't mean that money needs to be wasted though.

The IOC, under the leadership of Germany's Thomas Bach, has said that it wants to end overspending on the Olympics. No more should ex-Olympic stadiums turn into ruins and cause mountains of debt - like we saw after the 2004 Games in Athens.

So please, Hamburg, be original rather than showy. Plan the Games with a view to after the Olympics. And, should your city actually be awarded the Games, please don't get carried away. Do the thing professionally, but with enthusiasm and a welcoming heart.

After all, that was why the 2006 World Cup in Germany was so successful. And why shouldn't history repeat itself? It could be an Olympic "summer fairytale" just like in 2006 all over again, with all the young athletes of the world gathered in Germany. That is something to really get excited about.

In order for Hamburg to prepare itself in the best way for the bidding process, they need plenty of support across Germany. So, please everyone: don't turn every little Olympic doubt you have into a state emergency.

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