The inhabitants of Hamburg have clearly rejected the idea of the city hosting the summer Olympics 2024, as 51,6% voted against the notion in a public poll held on the 29th of November. Around 650,000 of the 1,3 million eligible to vote did so, resulting in a turnout of around 50,1%.
The inhabitants of the capital of Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, were also allowed to have their say on the matter, as they would have hosted the sailing competitions should the Olympics have materialised. Here, a majority of 65,6% were in favour of hosting the Olympics. This majority were however insignificant to the overall results - as the electoral turnout was relatively low in Schleswig-Holstein with 31,7%.
The official result of both polls will be announced in December, once those votes arriving via letter have been tallied up.
The evening of the poll also saw a meeting between the Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholtz (SPD), Second Mayor Katharina Fegebank (Grüne) and the President of the German Olympic Sports Association, Alfons Hörnmann, as they jointly faced the press.
Here, Scholtz told the German station NDR:
- Hamburg will not apply to host the Olympics nor the Paralympics 2024. I had hoped for a different decision - but the results are clear and will be accepted.
Olaf Scholz had previously labelled the Olympic candidacy as one of the most important projects during his time in office, as he believed it would have resulted in a rapid development for the city which would otherwise have taken 20-30 years to achieve.
Katharina Fegebank, Second Mayor of Hamburg, was also visibly disappointed, and stated that:
- We wanted the Olympics to benefit a majority, and not for and because of a minority.
Alfons Hörmann was also surprised with the results of the public poll:
- The result is a step backwards for German sporting. We have stood together with Hamburg to provide some new opportunities and perspectives for sports in Germany - which will now no longer exist for the coming generations.
Copenhagen: A shame
The Lord Mayors of Hamburg and Copenhagen, Olaf Scholz and Frank Jensen, have recently repeated their joint idea of a cooperation in connection with the Olympics in Hamburg, amongst other ideas there had been one idea of letting a bike race run through the Hamburg-Copenhagen corridor.
The result of the public poll has put to rest the plans, at least within the frame of the Olympic Games.
- It's is a shame that the Olympics won't be close to Copenhagen. But of course we fully respect the democratic decision made, said Lord Mayor Frank Jensen in a comment.
- Never the less there is great potential for arranging joint events with Hamburg in the future and we are determined to follow these possibilities, he emphasized.
Finally, Frank Jensen had a piece of criticism for the International Olympic Committee:
- Still there is reason for the IOC to take a deeper look into this and avoid the Olympic Games becoming so immense a show to pull off that only rich oil producing and dictatorship countries that can organize the Olympics.
IOC: Not surprising
The International Olympic Committee, on the other hand, whilst condoling the decision, stated it to be 'not entirely surprising'. The Committee went on to state that it is no surprise that the inhabitants of Hamburg have had this reaction in a time when Germany is strained from receiving a historically large number of refugees, and when the Olympic financing is not yet completely settled.
The International Olympic Committee also believes the level of support for the Olympics - 48,4% in Hamburg and 65,6% in Kiel - to be important evidence that the Olympics in themselves are still an important institution.
National politicians also expressed their disappointment at the results.
- An Hamburg Olympics would have been an amazing opportunity. It is a real shame. We have to evaluate why the resulted ended up the way they did, said Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble in a televised talk show, aired on the night of the poll.
- We have done everything we can to solve this financially. The Government would have supported Hamburg, although perhaps not in the way in which Hamburg had imagined, Schäuble said.
Hamburg has previously wanted a national co-financing of 6,2 billion EUR, which were not settled before the time of the public poll.
Updated on December 1, 2015
Sources: NDR/ZDF/ Hamburger Abendblatt/Spiegel online/ Süddeutsche Zeitung