Cities make push for 2018 Games

Pyeongchang, South Korea, joined Munich and Annecy, France, in making crucial presentations on Thursday. The host for the 2018 Games will be announced July 6.

LONDON --- Munich played up the financial strength of German sponsors and Annecy pushed its French Alpine traditions as the three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics made crucial presentations Thursday to a key international audience.


Three months before the IOC vote, bid teams from Munich, Annecy and Pyeongchang, South Korea, made 20-minute presentations at the SportAccord conference, a convention attended by hundreds of Olympic and sports federations officials from around the world.

The speeches and videos are an important warmup for May's formal presentations to International Olympic Committee members in Lausanne, Switzerland. The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot at its session in Durban, South Africa, on July 6.

Pyeongchang, which is making its third successive bid after narrow defeats for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, is considered the favorite as it makes its case for taking the Winter Games to a new market in Asia.

Munich, which played host to the 1972 Olympics, is seeking to become the first city to stage both the Summer and Winter Games. Munich says it's time to bring the winter games back to Germany after an absence of 80 years.

Annecy, long viewed as the outsider, says it can offer "authentic" village-style games in the heart of Europe's most popular winter sports region.

Munich presented first Thursday and, in a new twist to its campaign, focused on Germany's record as a leader in sponsorship of winter sports. Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, said German companies fund 50 percent of the revenues of the seven winter Olympic sports federations.

Taking the Olympics to Munich, he said, "would of course encourage them to stay on for decades and even increase their support."

"That will mean much greater winter sports sponsorship everywhere and a much stronger Olympic movement as a result," he said.

Katarina Witt, the two-time figure skating gold medalist who chairs the Munich bid, said Germany would provide sold-out venues in a country steeped in winter sports tradition.

"We are not just promising full stadia," she said. "We guarantee full stadia."

Thomas Bach, the IOC executive board member who oversees the Munich bid effort, said it was time for Germany to host the Winter Games for the first time since Garmisch-Partenkirchen in 1936.

"We have not hosted an Olympic Winter Games in more than 80 years," he said. "That's 10 generations come and gone without a games. ... This is the right moment for Munich."

Annecy's presentation featured new leader Charles Beigbeder, a French businessman who stepped in after Edgar Grospiron resigned in January in frustration over the bid budget.

Beigbeder promised "an authentic games in the heart of the mountains" that would reunite the "rich heritage of the Alps with the Olympic Movement."

The videos played heavily on the scenery of Mont Blanc and included historic footage from the first Winter Games held in Chamonix in 1924.

French Sports Minister Chantal Jouanno made a reference to Paris' defeat to London in the vote for the 2012 Summer Games.

"The favorites don't always win," she said.

Notable again for his absence from the presentation was Jean-Claude Killy, the French ski great and IOC member. He appeared in a video instead.