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2ND LEAD Hamburg Olympic bid stopped by referendum in another German fiasco By Franko Koitzsch, dpa

Europe
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Hamburg (dpa) - Hamburg‘s bid for the 2024 Olympics is over, mayor Olaf Scholz said on Sunday, conceding defeat in a referendum before the final result is announced in another fiasco for the nation‘s Olympic sport.

With most of the 650,000 votes counted and 51.6 per cent against the bid and only 48.4 in favour, Scholz said that "Hamburg will not bid for the Olympic and Paralympic Games 2024.

"The senate and I would have preferred a different decision, but it is a clear one."

German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) chief Alfons Hoermann spoke of a mayor setback for the sporting nation.

It was the second Olympic bid turned down in the country within two years, after the locals also vetoed a Munich bid for the 2022 Winter Games in November 2013.

Around 1.5 million people were eligible to vote in Hamburg and the proposed sailing events city of Kiel, with the latter seeing a big majority of 65.57 per cent in favour which however was to no avail.

Hamburg‘s withdrawal leaves Los Angeles, Paris, Rome and Budapest as the four bidders for 2024. The host city is elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in 2017.

Hamburg won a national race against Berlin and submitted its bid with a compact inner-city concept to the IOC by the September 15 deadline.

Opinion polls saw support dwindle from 63 to 57 per cent lately but Scholz and sports officials remained positive that they would get a majority.

However, a wide range of reasons - ranging from environmental and financial concerns to security issues in the wake of the Paris attacks, and corruption and doping affairs plaguing major sports organisations and also tarnishing Germany‘s hosting of the 2006 football World Cup - had led many to voice their opposition.

"It disappoints me that people don‘t see that this is about sports," a tearful Paralympics gold medallist Kirsten Bruhn said, foreseeing a bleak future for high-performance sport in the country.

The DOSB had hoped to boost many sports through the bid and Olympics in a difficult fight against the dominant football scene.

The number one sport could see the next big event in Germany as the country is bidding to host the Euro 2024 tournament.

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