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NEWS FEATURE Hamburg's resounding no to Olympics is also bad news for the IOC By John Bagratuni, dpa

Europe
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Hamburg‘s no to an Olympic bid in a referendum could see Germany miss out on the Games for at least a generation but the vote is also bad news for the IOC and its German president Thomas Bach.

Berlin (dpa) - Officials fear a big setback for high-performance sport in Germany after Hamburg residents on Sunday said no to the city‘s 2024 Olympic bid but the end the bid is also bad news for the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Hamburg became the latest city to snub the idea of spending billions for a 16-day extravaganza for which the IOC still sets most of the rules and any possible benefits only come in the aftermath.

An IOC spokesman conceded that "this result does not come as a complete surprise" but also insisted: "With this decision a great opportunity for the city, the country and the sport in Germany is lost."

German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) president Alfons Hoermann said that "Germany and the Olympic idea don‘t match at the moment" and must now find different ways to help boost German sport - with a DOSB assembly just around the corner Saturday when the soul-searching will continue.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung (SZ) said in an editorial Monday that "the Olympic idea in Germany is buried for a long time" after 51.6 per cent of the voters rejected the bid, with only 48.4 per cent in favour.

"That must be frightening for those sports who are only offered a big stage every four years. But IOC president Thomas Bach can‘t be liking the vote either. It shows that his programme to reform the International Olympic Committee isn‘t convincing."

American journalist Alan Abrahamson agreed, saying the latest rejection confirms "a profound brand crisis" for the IOC despite the Olympic Agenda 2020 which is to make Games cheaper and more sustainable.

Abrahamson said that IOC and its German president Bach should be playing a far more active role and lobby for Olympic values and Games in places where it matters.

"The IOC ... has a great story to tell. Why isn‘t it - and in particular, the IOC president - out there doing exactly that?" Abrahamson asked on his website 3wiresports.

"When people don‘t want you, something‘s wrong. Very wrong.

"And in recent months around Europe, the IOC‘s traditional base, voters and public officials have made it increasingly clear they either don‘t want, or plain-out fear, the Olympic brand."

The race for the 2022 Winter Games was reduced to eventual winners Beijing and Almaty and overshadowed by human rights issues, after a referendum killed Munich‘s bid, and Stockholm, Oslo and Krakow also pulled out.

The US had to look for a new 2024 candidate, now Los Angeles, after Boston quit, Toronto decided against a 2024 bid, and Rome called off a 2020 bid for financial reasons but is now back and competing against LA, Paris and Budapest.

While this 2024 field is good news for the IOC as it least eliminates more human rights debates, none of the four bidders have asked the locals in the same way as Hamburg did, making it unclear whether the people really want the Games.

The Germans seemingly said no for a multitude of reasons ranging from the large influx of immigrants into the country and security concerns after the Paris terror attacks. There were also suggestions that Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz only wanted to use the Games for ambitious and costly city development projects.

But as important is the crisis of major sports federations such as football‘s FIFA and athletics‘ IAAF with allegations and criminal investigations around corruption and doping - including the surroundings of Germany‘s awarding of the 2006 World Cup.

"The revulsion and distrust of sport are focussing on the organisation with the rings, the billion-business IOC," the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung said in an editorial, naming the referendum result "a slap in a face" of Bach.

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