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Hamburg voters to decide on 2024 Olympic bid

Germany Hamburg  2024

An aerial view shows thousands of people wearing colorful ponchos as they form the Olympic rings to support Hamburg’s bid for the Olympics 2024, in a park in Hamburg, Germany, Sunday Nov. 8, 2015. (Daniel Bockwoldt/dpa via AP)


HAMBURG, Germany (AP) – Leaders of Hamburg’s bid for the 2024 Olympics hope that a soccer scandal, unsettled costs and fear of attacks won’t dissuade voters from backing the German port city’s candidacy on Sunday.

About 1.3 million people in Hamburg and the nearby port city of Kiel hold the bid fate in their hands in a public referendum. Kiel is where sailing events would be held.

The bid has already been submitted to the International Olympic Committee and organizers hope it won’t share the same fate as Munich’s proposed candidacy for the 2022 Winter Games. That bid was rejected in a referendum.

“We’re giving the baton to the people of Hamburg and Kiel,” German Olympic Sports Confederation president Alfons Hoermann said Thursday.

More than 40 percent of those eligible to vote have already done so through a postal ballot.

“The excellent turnout that has emerged shows the Olympic Games project has been taken on by the city,” said Hoermann, whose federation backed Hamburg’s bid rather than rival Berlin’s in a unanimous vote in September.

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German interior minister Thomas De Maziere said voters should not be intimidated by the attacks in Paris or a terror scare in Hannover that prompted him to call off a football friendly between Germany and Netherlands last week. De Maziere also referred to the ongoing scandal involving the German football federation after it was alleged that bribes helped Germany secure the hosting rights to the 2006 World Cup.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung newspaper reported Thursday that Franz Beckenbauer, who headed the World Cup bid, received government support to try to influence FIFA executive committee members from Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

“Especially in view of the debates regarding big sporting events, Hamburg and Germany can show that a clean, fair, sustainable application can lead to success,” De Maziere said.

A dispute over sharing of costs has yet to be settled between the state and local government, but De Maziere said talks were going well.

“It concerns a lot of money and we’ll reach an agreement in the end,” De Maziere said.

Organizers have calculated the cost of hosting the games at 11.2 billion euros ($11.9 billion). The Hamburg senate wants the government to contribute 6.2 billion euros ($6.6 billion) while the city contributes 1.2 billion ($1.3 billion). Revenues of 3.8 billion euros ($4 billion) would be expected to make up the rest.

Paris, Rome, Los Angeles and Budapest, Hungary, also are bidding for the 2024 Games. The IOC will select the host city in Lima, Peru, in September 2017.

“Any approval over 50 percent is democratic legitimation to carry on,” Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz said. “We want to be successful on Sunday. We want to be successful in 2017 in Lima.”

Germany has not staged an Olympics since the 1972 Summer Games in Munich.

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