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SBD Global/February 26, 2013/Olympics

St. Moritz, Davos Must Win Over Local Support Before Winter Olympics Bid Can Progress

Financial concerns are undermining public support for St. Moritz's bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics in tandem with nearby Davos, according to Brian Homewood of REUTERS. Voters in the Swiss canton of Graubünden, where both towns are located, "will decide in a referendum on Sunday whether or not to support the bid." It would be a first Olympics for Davos, while St. Moritz, home of the Cresta run and the annual polo World Cup on snow, "would be hosting the Games for the third time after 1928 and 1948." Organizers "are having a hard time convincing the local population" to support the bid. Swiss Olympic Committee President Jörg Schild said, "We want to bring the winter Olympics back to the snow, it would be great if you could sit in the hotel and watch it snowing outside." Organizers admitted that the referendum, the first hurdle the bid must pass on its way to the IOC, was on "a knife-edge." Schild: "It will be very close."

A BOOST FOR TOURISM: According to bid organizers, the estimated investments of 4.3B Swiss francs ($4.62B) "will be repaid by the boost in tourism which will result from staging of the event." Of this, 1.5B Swiss francs ($1.6B) would be on transport on sporting infrastructure and 2.46B Swiss francs ($2.63B) would be on running the Games. The bid organizers say that "the bid is sustainable and environmentally friendly and that much of the necessary infrastructure already exists." Homewood added that, "The locals are still worried." Davos architect Juerg Grassl said, "Pressure to say yes to this has been enormous, including from public officials, but I think that pressure in recent days has shifted to the bid committee. It doesn't make sense financially, it's much too large an event, and it would burden the region with about 175,000 additional guests daily, about 10 times what we get on a booming day," he said. Karin Bravo, a 41-year-old opticians' receptionist from Davos, said that "the region was too small for such a big event." Bravo: "I find it too risky. It's much too large an event for Davos and St. Moritz alone, but would be all right if it was carried out in all of Switzerland" (REUTERS, 2/25).

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