Berlin, Hamburg tussle for German 2024 Olympic bid

September 1, 2014

BERLIN -- Berlin and Hamburg presented low-cost models with contrasting approaches on Monday in bids to become Germany's candidate city for the 2024 or 2028 Olympics.

Both cities submitted applications to the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB), which will make a decision in the next few months.

Berlin, which hosted the 1936 Olympics, proposes a decentralized games using 15 existing sports venues. Football, watersports and equestrian events could also take place in neighboring states.

The still-operational Tegel airport, due to close down once Berlin's new international airport finally opens, is slated for use as an Olympic village. Berlin also proposes making use of Tempelhof, another former airport, now used as a city park.

Hamburg envisages a compact city layout with the main stadium, swimming pool and athletes village on the Kleiner Grasbrook island on the River Elbe. Most events would take place within a 10-kilometer radius.

The games in both cities would cost an estimated 2 billion euros ($2.63 billion).

''That doesn't include all the costs. The total costs are yet to be determined,'' Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit said of his city's proposal. He estimated that costs could rise to 2.4 billion euros ($3.15 billion) with inflation.

A decision on which city will bid for which games could be made at a DOSB meeting on Dec. 6 in Dresden.

Wowereit, who is stepping down after more than 13 years as mayor on Dec. 11, said a referendum on whether Berlin should bid could be held in 2015.

Wowereit has faced intense criticism for ongoing delays to the new Willy Brandt airport. It was first scheduled to open in 2011 and costs have more than doubled to some 5.4 billion euros ($7.1 billion).

The Berlin mayor knows that any large projects funded by taxpayers' money will be closely scrutinized and a referendum is likely to be closely contested.

Opponents say Berlin urgently needs more money for apartments, kindergartens, schools, swimming pools and sporting facilities for everyone, not just for a major event in 14 years for a few weeks.

Voters in Bavaria rejected Munich's planned bit to host the 2022 Winter Olympics last November.