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Tears in Leipzig as Olympic bid fails

18 May 2004

LEIPZIG – Tuesday’s IOC decision to exclude Leipzig from the list of official bid cities for the 2012 Olympics was met by jeers and boos from thousands who had gathered in central Leipzig ready for a day of Olympic celebrations.

But the planned party in the city fell flat. The announcement from Lausanne was heard in stunned disbelief, with many people in tears.

“Of course it hurts, it hurts a lot,” Leipzig mayor Wolfgang Tiefensee told the crowd minutes after the announcement.

“We knew it would be a tough competition,” he told German television.

“We don’t want to speculate on what the background is. We had a very good concept. The public, the economy was behind us. Leipzig is a fair loser, and I want to congratulate those on the shortlist.

In Lausanne, IOC president Jacques Rogge said the IOC executive committee felt Leipzig “is not in a position at this stage to hold excellent Games”.

He added: “I can understand the disappointment in Leipzig and Germany.”

Top German sports personalities also expressed disappointment.

Formula One motor-racing world champion Michael Schumacher said: “A pity. The Olympic Games in Germany would certainly have been a special event.”

Former ice-skating Olympic champion Katarina Witt: “Just missing out is like being fourth in the Olympics. You have just missed a podium place which is no consolation.”

Olympic winner and three-time Wimbledon champion Boris Becker said: “This is missed chance for Germany. It is disappointing for the people of Leipzig who fought with heart, soul and courage for the possibility of hosting the Games.

“Germany should not be discouraged and make another bid for the 2016 Games.”

Long-jump Olympic champion Heike Drechsler said: “When you see which cities have been chosen then you can see they had a big lobby. The bid by Leipzig was right and it would be important to try again.”

In Lausanne, Interior Minister Otto Schily said Leipzig and the Rostock yachting venue had made an excellent bid which won top marks on security, finance and other areas.

“It was a technical decision in which two factors came to the fore – the lack of infrastructure and the accommodation concept,” he said.

Leipzig should not be discouraged by the failure, saying other cities such as Paris had failed with bids in the past.

“The bid has been good for both cities (Leipzig and Rostock),” he said. “What is slightly disappointing is that only the mega-cities were chosen.”


Subject: German news