Hamburg speaks

By | Category: Travel rumblings
Hamburg - where the 2024 Olympic Games might have been held and over these bridges where the marathon might have taken place

Hamburg – where the 2024 Olympic Games might have been held and over these bridges where the marathon might have taken place

Yesterday, a referendum was held in Hamburg to decide whether the city should apply to hold the 2024 Olympic Games. The electorate said no.


Traditionally politicians and sport people (I am not sure which is the lead instigator) claim that holding the event stimulates interest and tourism. The economic benefits are trotted out and learned people demonstrate that GDP will grow by a factor of x% as visitors spend more. Supporters claim that images of Hamburg will be seen around the world and visitors will flock to experience what they saw on television.

The costs incurred in pitching, holding the event and paying for security will all be funded by increased visitor numbers or by the long-term benefits that would be brought by better infrastructure. At some stage someone connected to the bis will say that the country would benefit as a whole.

None of these arguments appear to have persuaded the people of Hamburg to accept the wishes of the organisers. That the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DSOB) had decided that Hamburg should be the nominee over Berlin held no sway with voters. That people changed their minds due to the terrorist activities in Paris a fortnight ago is also no answer as another German city, Munich, voted two years ago not to allow officials to nominate it as the candidate for the 2022 winter games.

Given the choice, it appears people are either unwilling to face the disruption that it will bring or the cost. The arguments rehearsed earlier about the benefits seem to have fallen on deaf ears. Michael Vesper, the DSOB’s chief executive officer, blamed the 2006 World Cup scandal, Paris’ terror attacks and uncertainty caused by the refugee crisis for the defeat. In other words, they are all events outside the DSOB’s control. How convenient a justification for losing!

German tourism officials might just be quietly welcoming the decision. It means that the continued increase in visitor numbers can organically grow rather than having an artificial spike and, potentially, a drop in the following one or two years after any Olympics were held.




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