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Graubünden 2022 candidacy

Apr 10, 2014
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© StudentReporter /

The government of the Canton of Graubünden wanted to put the question of general principle concerning the “St. Moritz 2022” Winter Olympics to the vote at a cantonal level; the municipal authorities in St. Moritz and Davos followed suit at a municipal level. The proposed budget was confirmed by the Federal Government: CHF 60 million for the candidacy, CHF 2.8 billion for staging the Games, and CHF 1.6 billion for the infrastructure. Together, the Federal Government and the canton would therefore have had to pay at least CHF 1,345 million. On 3 March 2013, 53% of the Graubünden electorate voted against taking part in the Winter Olympics in 2022.

Public sector funding

The cantonal parliament linked the question of general principle with a credit request for CHF 300 million from cantonal capital as a contribution towards the Winter Olympics. As this entailed an amendment to cantonal budget legislation, the will of the people was legally binding. The President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer, along with those pulling the strings for the Olympics and the Graubünden government, had promised that, in the event of a “No” vote, the plug would be pulled. In the event of a “Yes” vote, the Federal Council dispatch would have been tabled for debate during the summer session of the Swiss Parliament with a request for an anticipated maximum deficit of one billion Swiss francs.

No escape from “oppressive contracts”

In its regulations, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) stipulates that the necessary commitments must be signed in advance by the Federal Council. If St. Moritz had then become a candidate city for 2022, a binding candidacy dossier would have had to be drawn up. In the event of it being awarded the 2022 Winter Olympics, the Host City Contract would have had to be signed the same day, setting out all the rights of the IOC and all the commitments undertaken by the hosting venues. It is for this reason that the contract itself was described as “oppressive” following an analysis of Salzburg 2014 and an expert report on Munich 2018.

See (de)

“Yes” steam roller unable to gain momentum

The “No” campaign succeeded in fostering an aversion towards the IOC and the mega event. As the rejection of “Bern 2010” in 2002 with 70% of “No” votes had shown, the mood of rejection was already well established amongst the electorate. The three key messages – “too big, too expensive, and in the hands of others” – were successfully communicated to the electorate through the cantonal and Swiss media, despite a modest campaign budget. And while the massive, multi-million “Yes” campaign with more than 150 events throughout Graubünden and the enticements of Sports Director Gian Gilli, Cantonal Government Member Hansjörg Trachsel and Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer did succeed in weakening the high “No” vote, it was unable to counter the critical mindset. The “Yes” steam roller achieved the very opposite, creating a sense of “overkill” that even journalists and newspaper letter-writers complained about. Across Switzerland there was resistance from prominent politicians of all parties. Had there been even more time prior to the vote, the percentage of “No” votes would have been even higher as too many questions remained unanswered, primarily regarding financing. The bogeyman image of the IOC and its oppressive contracts prevailed, as it did later in Bavaria too.

See also (de)

Time for the Olympics to steer clear of the Alps

With the IOC’s regulations and contractual conditions as they currently stand, staging the Winter Olympics in the Alps is no longer a responsible proposition. Such a unique event is too expensive and oversized. After the votes held in Bavaria, Vienna and Graubünden in 2013 it is fair to say that candidacies for the Olympic Games are no longer sustainable within the democratic regions of the Alps. There is a strong consensus against the Olympics, from rural areas through to urban centres. There are many different reasons why – from a fear of their excessive magnitude and environmental impact to a massive sense of distrust towards the IOC. Within the European Alpine region at least, a common determination has emerged among the people for “Olympics-free Alps”.

About the author:

Stefan Grass lives and works in Chur and heads the Komitees Olympiakritisches Graubünden [Olympics-critical Graubünden Committee]. He led the opposition to the Winter Olympics candidacies of Davos 2010, Zurich 2014 and St. Moritz 2022. From 2001 to 2008 he was a representative of the Swiss Transport and Environment Association (VCS Schweiz) at CIPRA Switzerland, and its Vice President from 2004 to 2008. He is a member of the Central Committee of the Swiss Transport and Environment Association (VCS) and President of VCS Graubünden. He is a Member of the Board of the Alpine Initiative and Secretary of the Association of Graubünden Environmental Organisations.

Contact: [email protected]


Related links:
Basic arguments: from pipe dream to nightmare!

Aspiration and reality: from freestyle candidacies to IOC diktat

International Olympic Committee: The winner takes it all. The winner is the IOC!

Media information: What now for resistance to the Olympics?