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Bid for Olympic games wins government backing

The Olympic flag was hoisted in St Moritz in 1948 and also in 1924 RDB

The cabinet has pledged SFr30 million ($31.4 million) toward a possible bid by Switzerland to host the Olympic Winter Games. A final decision on a candidature is expected next March when voters of Graubünden will have a say in the plans.

The cabinet is also prepared to cover a deficit of up to SFr1 billion for the organisation of the Games in the mountain resorts of Davos and St Moritz, according sport minister Ueli Maurer.

“The government is convinced the Games are a great opportunity to present a small country like Switzerland in a positive light,” said Maurer.

He added Switzerland was aiming for Games based on sustainability and innovation without following the trend toward gigantic new infrastructure.

“The Games should return to the mountains,” he said.

Parliament is due to discuss the funding proposal next year. A crucial decision is also scheduled for next March, when voters of canton Graubünden, the mountainous region in eastern Switzerland which would play host to the Winter Games in ten years, are having a say in the bid.

Overall costs for staging the event are estimated at SFr4.5 billion, while costs involved with the bid are expected at SFr60 million.

Environmental groups have come out against the Swiss bid and warned of the damage done to nature and the financial risks.

The International Olympic Committee will decide on the venue to host the 2022 Games in 2015.

St Moritz last hosted the Winter Olympics back in 1948 and once before in 1924. A Swiss bid to organise the 2006 Games in Sion was rejected by the Olympic Committee in favor of Turin in Italy.

The next Winter Games take place in Sochi, Russia, and Pyeongchang, South Korea, in 2014 and 2018 respectively.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR