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Berne-Montreux team present Olympic bid

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The competition to host the 2010 Winter Olympics hots up this week as two rival Swiss teams hand in their bids to the national Olympic Association.

Three days before the Thursday deadline, the organisers of the combined Berne-Montreux bid set out their stall, saying that their campaign's strength lay in its national appeal.

With sporting locations spread across seven cantons, the proposal is being touted as the first Swiss Olympic bid to bridge the country's linguistic divide. The rival bid centres on the east of the country, and is supported by the cantons of Zurich and Graubünden.

Berne-Montreux project leader Iris Huggler believes the wide spread nature of the bid's 15 sporting locations gives her team a real advantage over its rivals.

"We do have a national character," she told swissinfo, "and in Berne we also have the capital city. It may be smaller than Zurich, but everybody internationally knows Berne."

The organisers of the Berne-Montreux campaign have pledged to use existing buildings and infrastructure in order to protect the environment and cut down on investment costs. The estimated budget of Sfr 113 million is expected to make Berne-Montreux the most economical Swiss Olympic bid ever.

The organisers of the Graubünden-Zurich campaign will present their arguments on Thursday, when both teams hand in their dossiers to the Swiss Olympic Association.

In early December the rival campaigns will make their presentations to the Association's executive committee. A winner will only be chosen in January, following a vote by the committee, Swiss members of the International Olympic Committee and the individual sports associations.

The successful campaign team can then begin preparations for the international selection process. The IOC will not make a final decision on who will host the Games until the summer of 2003.

by Mark Ledsom

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