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Annecy’s candidacy for the 2018 Winter Olympics

© Comité Anti Olympique Annecy 2018 Zrilic

The French National Olympic Committee decided to compete for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Annecy was chosen from several towns and cities (Grenoble, Nice and Ecrins-Pelvoux). The decision was politically motivated, even if this was always denied.
Initially, all the winter sports resorts in the Haute Savoie département were involved in Annecy’s candidacy, which was strongly supported by the département itself. And despite some resistance, the Rhône-Alpes Region followed suit. The French government assumed liability for the financial risk, as was its duty – no more, no less!

Little support from the population

Annecy’s candidature was publicised as a “green” candidacy. CIPRA France took part in an environmental committee, but later resigned its mandate in protest as the committee proved to be nothing more than window dressing, with no genuine determination to protect the environment.
Surveys among the population in general and in Annecy in particular did not reveal any widespread support for the candidacy. Various associations stressed the financial and ecological costs and criticised the pointless projects; for example, the building of three brand new ice rinks in a region that already had plenty, and the promised upgrade of the rail network, which had been scheduled to go ahead even without the Olympic Games.

A shaky candidacy

Once the initial examination of the candidacies had been completed, “Annecy 2018” came in third behind Munich and South Korea. Determined to fight on in its bid to secure the Games, “Annecy 2018” then radically altered its concept in line with the IOC’s demands. The competition venues were re-assigned to the municipalities of Chamonix, La Clusaz and the town of Annecy, and the other winter resorts were sidelined. At this point it would have been sensible to withdraw the candidacy in order not to ramp up expenditure on a hopeless bid any further (by then it already stood at 16 million euros). Ultimately, the 2018 Winter Olympics were awarded to the South Korean region of Pyeongchang. Four managing directors succeeded one another at the head of the Organising Committee, highlighting the shaky support and political conflict, with the Mayor of Annecy ultimately being left out in the cold.

A cobbling together of self-interests

A costly candidacy, then, cobbled together in a small, local and politicised committee in which everyone sought to squeeze out the best they could for themselves. The result was a candidacy devoid of a consistent strategy that met with disinterest among the population and, at times, fierce opposition.

 

About the author:

Patrick Le Vaguerèse is Vice President of Mountain Wilderness France and Honorary President of CIPRA France.
Contact: patrick.le-vaguerese@sfr.fr