Q&A: Annecy and Munich 2018

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The two Winter Olympics 2018 European contenders Annecy and Munich go head–to–head in this exclusive interview with MEI. Rachael Church–Sanders spoke to Edgar Grospiron (EG), CEO of Annecy 2018 and Katarina Witt (KW), chair of the Munich 2018 Bid Committee.

Please outline your role and responsibilities at your respective Bid CommitteesEG: "Annecy 2018 is led by athletes, for athletes and as an Olympic Champion, I am delighted to have the honor to lead this sport–driven French Olympic Bid. As the CEO of the Annecy's Bid, my role is to federate the synergies of all parties involved in order to give a concrete outcome of our vision to host inspiring and 'sustainable' Games which will celebrate the 'true spirit of' the Winter Games. I especially work closely with a strong team of French and international athletes, who are engaged on every aspect of the Bid, to develop the best possible partnership with the IOC for a 2018 Winter Games. Until the final IOC decision, we will continue to work hard and share our vision and passion with the international Olympic Family making sure we fully answer all their needs. " KW "As a three–time Olympian, I know the essential ingredients for creating an unforgettable Games experience for athletes. Along with Bernhard Schwank, I see my role as being the voice of sport, ensuring that we remain focused on providing the optimal conditions for elite athletic performance, in 2018 and beyond. I've spent the last few months representing Munich's Bid internationally; I've met so many wonderfully knowledgeable and passionate people, and I've learned some invaluable lessons. I'm really excited about the prospect of being much more active domestically now and using these lessons to strengthen our Bid at home and abroad. "What is the history behind your Bid and why does your city want to hold the 2018 Winter Olympics? EG: "France, as a long–time partner of the Olympic Movement, is aware of the great power of the Olympic Games to initiate positive change and progress within a whole country. In 1924, the first Winter Olympic Games at Chamonix opened a wonderful cycle of development for the French mountains and modern winter sports. Today, France is willing to host the Winter Games again in 2018. The main reason is that the Games in Annecy in 2018 will help us lay the foundations of a new cycle, and open the way into the mountains of the 21st Century: a way that is more respectful of the environment, more welcoming and more active...With this great legacy in mind, Annecy 2018 and the whole French sports movement is extremely motivated and fully committed to convince the IOC that we are the best partner for the 2018 Winter Games–a partner who will offer sport and the whole world the most magnificent spectacle, Games of sporting, economic and environmental excellence, a festival that will celebrate the true spirit of Winter Games. "KW: "Bavaria is a true heartland of winter sports. Whether playing, hosting or supporting, winter sports are ingrained in our culture very deeply. Despite that, two entire generations of the German nation have never experienced an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in their own country. The last time Germany hosted a Winter Games was in 1936, and now we are full of hope that we might welcome the world to Munich, Garmisch–Partenkirchen and Lake Kænigssee to share our love of all things Olympic. A Winter Games in Munich in 2018 would reinvigorate the European winter sports market and reignite the passion for winter sports across the region and beyond. Our dream is to stage a Festival of Friendship by delivering the most athlete–friendly Games ever; by celebrating the Olympic family and the values it represents; and by ensuring a sustainable legacy for future generations. "How is your Bid being funded and how would the event be funded if you are successful? EG: "All of France's economic powers, from the French State at its highest level to international, national and local private companies are fully behind the Bid. With this unanimous support on our side, we have assembled a comprehensive €16m budget for the Olympic and Paralympic campaign. Annecy 2018 offers full financial guarantees to organise great Winter Games on the Annecy Haute Savoie Mont Blanc territory. We will deliver great and balanced Games, on time, on budget, in total peace of mind for the Olympic Family. "KW: "The Munich 2018 Bid Committee is an independent company funded by a combination of public and private sector investment. We have a budget of €33m, €22m of which has already been secured through committed local government backing and the extraordinary success of our sponsorship programme. We also enjoy strong support from the Bavarian Parliament and its prime minister, Horst Seehofer. " Is public support strong for your Bid – what is the feeling 'on the street'? EG: "French people are passionate about Winter Games. According to a poll conducted in February 2010 using the criteria required by the IOC, 88% of French men and women are in favour of Annecy hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. And there has been major support for various events in the calendar: 30, 000 people at Olympics Day on 23 June 2010; 125, 000 fans on Facebook. " KW: "We are developing a real buzz around the Bid. The level of public support is strong and growing locally and nationally. In a recent poll by SID News Agency, 78. 3% of people across Germany support Munich's Bid. We have worked hard to open and maintain as many channels of communication as possible between the Munich 2018 Bid Committee and the citizens of Munich, Bavaria and Germany. This helps us to keep our stakeholders informed about the progress of the Bid, and also ensures we receive plenty of constructive feedback. This has helped us tremendously in the dynamic development of our innovative Bid concept. " What are the strengths of your Bid? EG: "Annecy 2018 is the perfect partner for the Olympic Movement at this momentous time in Games history. French winter sport passion and know–how in organising major sport competitions will offer a fantastic experience to athletes and spectators alike. The natural assets of Annecy Haute Savoie Mont Blanc are at the heart of Annecy 2018's compact, high–performance and sustainable Games Plan, which will celebrate the true spirit of Winter Games in the heart of the mountains. One very unique aspect of our Bid is that we envisage the 2018 Winter Games as a partnership with the IOC–it means that both the Olympic Movement as a whole and France as a country should get stronger thanks to the 2018 Winter Games in Annecy. A strong and positive legacy for both Annecy Haute Savoie Mont Blanc and the international Olympic Family is at the heart of our proposal. " KW: "The cornerstone of Munich's Bid is its sustainability. Through the adaptive innovation of existing world–class sports venues, the construction required to stage the Winter Games in 2018 would be minimal. Combine this with Munich's already world–class transport, tourism and service infrastructure, and Munich 2018 can confidently commit to minimising the impact on the environment from Games–related building. The Munich Olympic Park, an integral facet of our Bid concept, is an archetype of Olympic sustainability in action. Originally commissioned for the 1972 Games in the Bavarian capital, six of the original sports venues are still in active service, and Munich's sporting, cultural and entertainment epicentre continues to host 350 diverse and relevant events every year. Munich, Bavaria and Germany have a long and proud tradition of hosting sports mega–events. In 2010 alone, Bavaria has staged 15 world cups and world championships in winter sports on the Olympic programme. 2006's FIFA World Cup in Germany is widely regarded as one of the greatest celebrations of sport the world has ever seen, with hundreds of millions of fans from all over the world coming together safely and securely in a spirit of friendship. One of our most important assets is also one of our most unique: Munich 2018 is able to call upon the culture of warmth, friendliness and hospitality for which Bavaria is famed across the globe. Munich can proudly boast the world's biggest party in Oktoberfest, which this year welcomed over six million visitors. The friendly, carnival ambience has made Oktoberfest an irresistible draw for people of all ages and backgrounds. We want to recreate that atmosphere with a global gathering of sports fans in 2018. "Where will the events actually be held (where are your main venues/competition locations)? EG: "Our initial proposal has been considerably enriched and sharpened thanks to very valuable insight and advice from the IOC. I am very extremely grateful to the Olympic Family for their collaboration on our side, for we are a strong and very efficient Bid for it. Together with the French athletes and international sports movement, we have developed a high–performance, ultra–compact concept: the events will be organised around two principle bases, Annecy and Chamonix, which are less than an hour apart and linked by motorway and the 'Games Train'. All the events are within a 33 kilometres radius, with Geneva international airport only 25 minutes from AnnecyWe are looking forward welcoming the IOC Evaluation Commission in Annecy in February 2011 to show them how, by listening and learning to their advice, we have developed the best concept for a memorable celebration of the Games. "KW: "Munich has a compact 'Two Park' concept. Skating, ice hockey and curling would be held at the Ice Park, which will be developed from existing venues at the Munich Olympic Park, right in the city centre. Garmisch–Partenkirchen, less than one hour away by autobahn, would host all of the alpine and skiing events at its Snow Park. Luge, bobsleigh and skeleton would all take place at the world–famous Sliding Centre at Lake Kænigssee, also within one hour of Munich. The 'Two Park' concept creates an unprecedented level of convenience for the athletes and Olympic family and reflects Munich's long–term commitment to sustainability. The compact Park designs will reduce transport times, minimise energy consumption, simplify security and logistical loads, and concentrate service systems, all while delivering a high level of convenience for the athletes and each Olympic and Paralympic client group. What is your city doing to ensure it can maximise its chances of winning? EG: "We aim to use all communications channels to further explain the essence and benefits of Annecy 2018's unique concept to the Olympic Family members. As a Bid city, we are especially invited to participate in worldwide meetings within the Olympic Movement. Each time, it is a great opportunity to present our project and engage with key members of the Olympic Family and learn from their wealth of knowledge to further enhance Annecy 2018's already strong plan to deliver exciting Games and great sporting, social, economic and environmental heritage for the benefit of the city, France and the Olympic Movement. "KW: "Munich 2018 has just launched its latest national integrated advertising campaign. We want to keep communicating the benefits that hosting the Games would have to people all over Germany, and we are constantly looking for fresh and engaging ways to do it. We have also established partnerships with a number of Germany's most influential sporting associations, including FC Bayern Munich, and the German ice hockey, handball, basketball and football leagues. This gives us an unparalleled platform for demonstrating our commitment to cultivating sport in Germany, from grass roots right through to elite competition, whilst enabling even closer engagement with the millions of passionate sports fans all over the country. The Association of National Olympic Committees General Assembly [in mid–October 2010] was an outstanding opportunity to communicate directly the unique selling points of Munich 2018 to the Olympic family and other key stakeholders on the international stage. We also had the chance to share our powerful new slogan, and make Munich 2018's promise to the Olympic Movement: that we will stage an unforgettable 'Festival of Friendship' should we be awarded the Winter Games in 2018. " Finally, what would be the main legacies for both your city and your country if you host the event? EG: "The Games in Annecy will open the way into the mountains of the 21st Century; one key element here is to capitalise on the Games' power to make Annecy and Savoie Mont Blanc a centre of international excellence for outdoor sports. This aim will be fulfilled especially by the creation and reconversion of numerous facilities for athletes, in training and competition, both for winter sports and summer outdoor activities. Finally, we are committed to placing young people at the heart of the Games; already today we are making Annecy 2018 the natural playground of their hopes and dreams, so they can begin to imagine tomorrow's adventure. "KW: "Post–Games and long–term, the new developments within Munich's Olympic Park will provide tremendous benefits to the city. Likewise, the sustainable developments in Garmisch–Partenkirchen will serve long–term community needs. But our ambition is to create a sustainable legacy not just for Munich, Bavaria and Germany, but for the entire Olympic Movement. An Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Munich would set new global standards in the environmentally–friendly staging of international mega–events and provide a benchmark to be replicated all over the world. The full stadia atmosphere and Bavarian welcome would ignite the spirit of winter sports and carry it beyond the venues: fan zones and street festivals would fill the city and mountains with the magic of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. With our plan for an unprecedented celebration of winter sports, Munich intends to do for the Winter Games what Germany did for the 2006 FIFA World Cup–elevate the public celebration to an unprecedented level that enhances the brand worldwide. "

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