POSTED: November 29th 2015

[Updated] Olympics: Hamburg 2024 loses the referendum with 51.7% voting no and scraps the bid campaign

(L to R) CEO of the Olympia Hamburg 2024 Nikolas Hill and Michael Vesper, CEO of DOSB, taking in the sobering news that Hamburg has lost the referendum / Getty Images
(L to R) CEO of the Olympia Hamburg 2024 Nikolas Hill and Michael Vesper, CEO of DOSB, taking in the sobering news that Hamburg has lost the referendum / Getty Images

Hamburg supporters were deflated / Getty Images
Hamburg supporters were deflated / Getty Images

LAURA WALDEN (USA) / Sports Features Communications

(SFC) Nikolas Hill, CEO of the Hamburg 2024 Olympic bid, confirmed in a conference call with international Olympic media that the Hamburg bid will not go forward. This now leaves Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome in a four horse race to host the 2024 Olympic summer Games. 

The final numbers were Hamburg: 51.6% No votes to 48.4% Yes votes and the projected sailing venue Kiel with 65.6% Yes votes and 34.4% No votes. There were 335,638 votes against and 314,468 in favor and 1,483 invalid ballots in the Hamburg area. 

Hill said in a statement, "The citizens of Hamburg and Kiel have voted, and the result could not be more different. 

"The result is a bitter pill for us to swallow, but a democratic decision must simply be accepted. 

"It is obvious that without the majority support of the citizens of Hamburg we cannot win a bid to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games here. We have always said that the candidacy can only be successful if it is really desired and supported by the citizens.

"We would like to thank the citizens of Kiel for their Yes and regret that we cannot embark on bidding to host the 2024 Olympics and Paralympic Games on their behalf. 

"The referendum took place in a situation that was quite extraordinary for both sports and all of society, but we have to live with that, and that's the way it is: We of course fully and utterly accept the fact that the majority of citizens at present do not support a candidacy for the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

"The first phase of the candidacy for the Olympics and Paralympics Games itself achieved much in Hamburg and Kiel: both cities enjoy clearly higher international recognition and even urban development and sports have both been strengthened - a vision was created from which we hopefully benefit in the future, too. The focus now must be on developing the City of Hamburg and sports Germany even without the prospect of the Olympic Games," he added.

Citizens from both cities have been able to vote since October and approximately half of the 1.3 million citizens cast ballots in Hamburg and in Kiel 31.7% of the population marked ballots.

Former host city of the 1972 Games, Munich, fell out of the 2022 Games race due to a lack of support from their referendum and it is now clear that German citizens are not keen on hosting the Games again. It may be quite a while before German dares to submit another Olympic bid. 

Munich residents voted 52% against the bid for the winter Games with co-host cities Garmisch voting  54% against and Traunstein coming in with a higher number of 60% against the Games.

Hamburg had always planned to hold the referendum in November after already officially joining the bid race in September.

Maybe their plan was to ignite the passion locally by getting off the starting gate however that backfired. 

Today's news will also have an effect on IOC President Thomas Bach, himself a German national, and his much applauded Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms. The new bidding process has opened doors for potential bidding cities to see if bidding is right for them and now the IOC is involved in a more hands on process. 

External Influences

Recent international incidents such as the Paris terrorist attacks, the refugee crisis, the negative rumors swirling around the German World Cup 2006 bid, the FIFA debacle, and the WADA independent report revealing serious doping allegations against Russian sport and athletics may also have weighed on the hearts and minds of the voters. 

These are all far beyond the control of the German bid committee however they have had an effect on sport worldwide. 

IOC Reaction 

The IOC released the following statement in response:

"Having followed the discussions in Germany over the last weeks, this result does not come as a complete surprise. With this decision a great opportunity for the city, the country and the sport in Germany is lost.

"The city also misses the investment of the IOC of about 1.7 Billion US-Dollar to the success of the Games, which compares to the 1.2 Billion Euro Hamburg wanted to invest. It is understandable that the citizens of Hamburg are very sensitive with regard to the not yet finalized financing plan of the candidature.

"Even more so in a situation in which Germany has to manage a historic challenge with a high number of refugees coming into the country.

"Therefore the high number of yes votes with 48.4 percent in Hamburg and the clear majority of 65.6 percent in Kiel is very valuable and supports the position of DOSB about the importance of Olympic Games.

"The IOC is looking forward to the future cooperation with DOSB in the development of sport in Germany.

"Now there will be a strong competition with four excellent candidate cities, Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome for the Olympic Games 2024.

"With these strong competitors we all can look forward to exciting Olympic Games 2024, whoever the winner will be."

**LAURA WALDEN has over twenty-five years of experience in the Olympic Movement, formerly at the European Olympic Committees with SportEurope under former IOC President Dr. Jacques Rogge and IOC Member Mario Pescante. She worked with the Rome 2004 and Turin 2006 Olympic bids and also managed PR & media for Dr. Jacques Rogge during his campaign for the presidency.

Keywords · Olympics · Hamburg 2024

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