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Zurich still in running for 2014 Games

Bern's bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics was shot down by voters Keystone Archive

The Swiss Olympic Association has chosen Zurich as the country’s candidate city for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

The committee’s executive council warned however that it was backing the bid on principle only, and that it required the city’s support to go ahead.

The Zurich bid received high marks technically, but question marks remain about its viability as an Olympic venue.

“Zurich corresponds to 95 per cent of what we expect from a bid,” said Swiss Olympic’s CEO, Marco Blatter, in Bern on Monday. “The problem is that representatives from four cantons are part of the working group, but nobody from the city of Zurich itself.”

The city council has already warned that it will not back the construction of new sporting venues, nor will it offer any financial backing for the Games.

Lack of support

According to Blatter, the city council has not even expressed any support for the project, only stating it would not be opposed to a bid. “With this lack of political backing, a candidature has no chance at the international level,” he told swissinfo.

The standard host city contract set out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) demands numerous concessions.

Blatter added that a bid from a city that isn’t prepared to make financial or other gestures wouldn’t even be considered. He also warned that unless the city’s authorities embraced the project wholeheartedly, there was no point in pursuing it.

Swiss Olympic also demands popular support for the bid. Local votes on a candidacy would have to be held by 2005 at the latest.

Davos gone

Zurich city council has said it is surprised about the criticism it is facing. “Swiss Olympic has been aware of our position from the start,” said Ernst Hänni, the head of the city’s sports department.

Hänni adds that with a new football stadium and the renovation of Zurich’s main ice rink, the city has already done its share. “It’s up to others to take on the costs tied to a Zurich bid.”

Swiss Olympic unanimously rejected the bid from the only other competitor, Davos.

“Davos’ candidacy was not up to our expectations, so we had to reject their bid,” said Blatter.

The association’s committee said the resort failed to meet several technical requirements imposed by the IOC.

Blatter added Swiss Olympic’s credibility would have been on the line if Davos had been chosen to represent Switzerland.

Lack of success

Davos was marked unfavourably due to the long distances of venues from international airports, poor planning of the Olympic Village, lack of accommodation for media and guests and the questionable long-term use of some of the newly built sports facilities.

Bern’s candidacy for the 2010 Winter Games was the last for Switzerland, but it withdrew in the early stages after losing a referendum regarding funding.

Switzerland last hosted the Winter Olympics in St Moritz in 1948 and has bid unsuccessfully three times since 1969.

Five years ago the IOC selected Turin, Italy for the 2006 Winter Olympics, ahead of the Swiss town of Sion, which was considered to be technically superior and to have more popular support.

The furious Swiss suspected that IOC members were taking their revenge on Swiss IOC official Marc Hodler, who blew the whistle on Olympic corruption.

The IOC will select the host for the 2014 Games in 2007.

swissinfo with agencies

Two bids were up for consideration by the Swiss Olympic Association for the 2014 Winter Olympics: Davos and Zurich.

Davos was rejected on technical grounds, and Zurich has been given the go ahead only if political and popular support are forthcoming.

Besides venues in canton Zurich and the city itself, some events would be held in cantons Graubünden, Schwyz, St Gallen and Zug.

The city of Zurich has refused so far to commit itself financially or politically to the bid.

Swiss Olympic has given the city until the end of the year to accept the conditions imposed by the IOC on a host city.

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