POSTED: February 11th 2011

Wiberg puts positive face on bid but Annecy has mountain to climb

Pernilla Wiberg: excited by the bid potential / lake images
Pernilla Wiberg: excited by the bid potential / lake images

KEIR RADNEDGE in Annecy / Sports Features Communications

ANNECY, Feb 11: Pernilla Wiberg says she “cannot think of a better place then Annecy, right in the heart of Europe,” to stage the Winter Olympics in 2018. She is, of course, as vice-president of the bid campaign, biased.

Her enthusiasm is understandable, engaging. The French Alps are a traditional home of winter sports and Chamonix – Annecy’s junior partner in the bid – hosted what is now considered the first Winter Games all of 87 years ago.

The alpine scenery is spectacular, the cuisine exquisite and the peak of Mont Blanc glitters proudly and alluringly in the chill winter sun.

Wiberg adds: “Athletes who come here find a home from home. It would be the perfect place [for 2018]. I’m so excited to be involved in a bid which offers a great concept for the Games as well as a legacy not only for French athletes but for international athletes as well.”

The personal enthusiasm, not only of Wiberg but of all the sport and tourism personnel is touching. But emotional commitment alone will not be enough for Annecy to come from a long way back and overtake both Munich and favourite PyeongChang when the IOC votes in Durban on July 6.

Boxes ticked

Bid leaders and mid-ranking Ministers insist that the French government is fully behind the bid. All the IOC boxes of athlete-care, sustainability, educational consideration, legacy and the extinction of white elephants are ticked with confidence.

However . . . an environmentally-aware reluctance to build new roads may compromise transport concerns. Also, forecasts of significant private sector investment in accommodation appear highly optimistic in the present economic climate.

Michelin-starred chef Marc Veyrat promises Annecy can offer an authentic flavour for the Winter Games. He may be right. He should know.

Persuading the IOC, however, that Annecy can deliver on an apparently self-contradictory promise of a major world sports event in an Alpine village setting will take more than enthusiasm.

A Mont Blanc of a challenge, indeed.

Keywords · Winter Olympics · Annecy 2018 · Wiberg · IOC

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