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Bern politicians back Olympic bid

The Swiss capital hopes to provide a scenic setting for the 2010 Games.

Bern's cantonal parliament has agreed to contribute SFr22.5 million ($14.3 million) towards the city's bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The vote helps to clear an important domestic hurdle for the Bern bidders although the parliamentary decision must still go to a popular ballot in the autumn.

People living in the city of Bern will also get the chance to vote on a separate SFr4 million credit previously approved by the city parliament.

The cantonal credit is divided into two distinct funds with SFr15 million being set aside for the development of sporting facilities in the canton and SFr7.5 million being used to buy shares in the company set up to organise the bid itself.

Major boost to local economy

Prior to the vote, Bern’s cantonal president Elisabeth Zölch said that a successful Olympic bid would generate around a billion francs for the local economy as well as putting Bern and Switzerland in the international spotlight.

The 2010 bid proposes Bern as its host city with further Olympic locations in Fribourg, Crans-Montana, Veysonnaz, Les Diablerets, Leysin, Gstaad, Col des Mosses and St Moritz.

Organisers have estimated that the application bid will cost around SFr12.5 million ($7.95 million) with the total cost of staging the Games reckoned to be around SFr987 million ($628 million).

Seven rivals

The Bern bid currently faces competition from seven rival teams with Salzburg and Vancouver likely to offer the stiffest opposition. La Vella (Andorra), Harbin (China), Jaca (Spain), Pyongchang (South Korea) and Sarajevo (Bosnia) make up the other bids.

The International Olympic Committee is set to make its final selection at its Prague session in July 2003.

swissinfo with agencies

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR