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Late start

July 7, 2011

Germany will have to wait a while to host its next Olympics. In the race for the 2018 games, Pyeongchang was the clear winner over Munich. DW sports editor Stefan Nestler says Germany's bid had limitations.

Opinion graphic

What was the deciding factor for Pyeongchang's win over Munich? One can only speculate of course. Any city that can stay in the race until the day of the announcement has obviously done just about everything right. The criteria that an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member state uses to choose their favorite candidate city remains a secret. Did the delegate decide based on emotion, or based on the facts? Did he or she take the decision a long time ago, or spontaneously? Or did lobbyists perhaps play a role in the process? Were delegates promised something or even bribed?

Since the scandal surrounding the awarding of the Winter Olympics to Salt Lake City in 2002, the International Olympic Committee has made an effort to reduce corruption. That is one of the main differences between the IOC and the world soccer governing body, FIFA. Nevertheless, there is still a gray area. Cash gifts can still be disguised as development aid, or as a donation to a sports trust in the country. A certain amount of doubt that everything is being done by the book still remains.

Picture of Deutsche Welle sports editor, Stefan Nestler
DW sports editor, Stefan NestlerImage: DW

Both South Korea and Germany have reputations as countries that are able to host large sports events. The organization and atmosphere are sure to be good - and the finances will also be sound. That Pyeongchang got the nod suggests that the financial aspect was the most important. In South Korea's favor is the fact that Asia is a winter sport market of the future, while Europe has long since been stretched to its limits. In addition, Pyeongchang's main sponsor is the electronics giant Samsung, also one of the top sponsors of the IOC. The determination of the Koreans is sure to also have impressed some of the delegates. This was their third Olympic bid in a row.

Munich's campaign seemed to start properly in September 2010, when Katarina Witt took control. That was late of course - too late. The 45-year-old, former Olympic figure skating champion tried to use her charms to cover over the mistakes of her predecessor, Willy Bogner. For instance, the bid committee had failed to get the farmers in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on their side and an anti-Olympic group had already been formed. In May, only two months before the IOC decision, an agreement was finally reached with land owners whose properties need to be used for the Olympic Games. Even though the opposition to the Olympics was merely a demonstration of lively democracy, it probably didn't make the best impression on the IOC members. Olympic officials are more interested that everything runs smoothly. In this regard, Pyeongchang was definitely well ahead.

Author: Stefan Nestler / al
Editor: Nancy Isenson