The cantonal authorities in Graubünden have provided a welcome boost to plans to host the Winter Olympic Games there in 2010. They have given the project an initial thumbs up.
Graubünden's government has said that in principle it is in favour of the bid and has given the nod to the creation of a special panel, to be headed by Senate member, Christoffel Brändli. The committee will examine the impact future Olympic infrastructures will have on the environment. Cantonal leaders have made it clear they do not want Graubünden to be littered with obsolete sports complexes.
The proposal the panel eventually draws up will be put to a popular vote in the summer of 2001. But with the precedent set by the people of Graubünden in 1980, when they rejected the Olympic candidacies of Saint Moritz and Davos, the cantonal government has acknowledged that obtaining a favourable vote this time round cannot be taken for granted.
The canton has made it clear that Graubünden would be unable to host the Games without Zurich's participation, but the latter appears keen to do so. The next step in the Olympic bid will be garnering the approval in November of the Swiss Olympic Committee, which will then have to decide whether to present the candidacy to the Lausanne-based International Olympic Committee.
Switzerland has hosted two Winter Olympics already, in 1928 and 1948, both times in Saint Moritz. Graubünden is not the only Swiss bid being drawn up. The Montreux region is also hoping to host the 2010 Winter Games. The IOC will decide on the winning bid in 2003.
swissinfo and agencies