Munich bid counts on German financial clout

LONDON Tue Apr 5, 2011 1:11pm BST

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LONDON (Reuters) - German companies provide around 50 percent of overall sponsorship for all seven international winter sports federations annually, Munich 2018 winter Games bid chief Katarina Witt said Tuesday.

Witt, in London to push Munich's bid to become the first city to host summer and winter Olympics, said sponsorship by German companies in winter sports would be growing in the coming years, irrespective of the Munich candidacy.

"Germany brings in 50 percent of (sponsorship) finance for the seven international winter sports federations," the twice Olympic figure skating champion told a small group of reporters on the sidelines of an international sports business convention.

"There is much more room to grow," she said, adding that BMW board member Ian Robertson would also back the bid in the British capital.

German companies contribute 2.6 billion euros ($3.7 billion) per year in winter sports and summer sports sponsorship, Witt said.

The International Olympic Committee will decide on the winning bid on July 6 in Durban, South Africa, with South Korea's Pyeongchang and France's Annecy also in the running.

Witt also played down the importance of a referendum among residents of Garmisch-Partenkirchen set for May 8 on whether they want the Games there or not.

Garmisch, which hosted the 1936 winter Games, is the site of the Alpine events if Munich gets the nod and opponents to the bid say the Games would damage the environment there.

Witt said she was informing IOC members about this ongoing issue but it was nothing new to them.

"We are honest about it, open about it, it is part of our culture, it is democracy," said Witt.

She said in every bid city there was a small group of people who were opposed to the Games and IOC was used to this by now.

Witt also sounded confident a land dispute over the use of some fields for the Olympics would be resolved with the Bavarian owners.

"It is only one small piece (of land) that is in the field of play," she said, adding that should Munich win there was sufficient time to settle any differences.

(Editing by Mark Meadows and Sonia Oxley)

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