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Bern Olympic bid looks stateside for lessons

Will Bern light the Olympic torch in 2010? Keystone

The man behind Bern's bid to host the 2010 Winter Games, Martin Hodler, admits that Salt Lake City will be a hard act to follow.

This content was published on February 27, 2002 - 15:48

The man leading Bern’s bid, Martin Hodler, told swissinfo that measuring up to Salt Lake City would be a daunting task, but that it was crucial for Switzerland’s image that Bern succeeds in doing so.

“It’s a big task to follow this event – but Switzerland needs this challenge. It would be very sad if Switzerland can’t do what Utah did.”

Hodler said he was impressed by the “perfect organisation” of the Winter Games in Salt Lake City, which combined stringent security measures with friendliness and enthusiasm on the part of the organisers.

However, he said Switzerland shouldn’t fall into the trap of trying to emulate the Salt Lake Games.

The Swiss way

“Every country should put its own stamp on the event,” he said. “And the Games in Bern would look nothing like Salt Lake City - we are not the US and we would do things on our way.”

He also pointed to the danger of allowing the event to become too large and costly.

“The Games can’t keep on growing bigger and bigger, because otherwise there will be only a few countries capable of hosting them. A big advantage of the Bern bid is that we could build on existing infrastructure with very little investment.”

Hodler said Bern’s bid to host the Games was vital to injecting a much-needed sense of competitiveness back into Swiss society.

“The biggest problem I face is getting Swiss people to accept this challenge – they don’t want to take the risk,” says Hodler. “Switzerland needs a bit of a push to get back into leadership - we have to show our younger generations that there is still some entrepreneurial spirit in our veins.

“Hosting the Games would be a very good training ground for tourism, for the economy and planning for future generations – which I think we’ve stopped doing.”

As to Bern’s chances of hosting the Winter Games, Hodler said he was confident that would at least be held in the Alps.

“The Olympic Committee says it wants to see a 2-to-1 relationship between European Games and overseas games, so really the 2010 Games should be held in this continent,” he said. “The contest is likely to be between Salzburg, Switzerland and possibly Sarajevo.”

by Vanessa Mock and Billi Bierling

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