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Munich’s 2018 and 2022 candidacies

.© Axel Döring/Gesellschaft für ökologische Forschung

Munich’s candidacy for 2018 was decided almost unanimously in November 2007 by Munich City Council, Garmisch-Partenkirchen Municipal Council and the District Council of Berchtesgadener Land, initially without any public consultation or discussion. There was specifically no provision made for public consultation.

Referendum pushed through

Meanwhile preparations were underway for the 2011 World Ski Championships in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The first public protests began after the layout of the slopes proved to be significantly different and larger than promised at the time of the candidature.
Following the negative experiences of the World Ski Championships, opposition began to form in 2010 as part of the “Nolympia” alliance. Although the proponents did everything they could to prevent a public consultation, “Nolympia” succeeded in pushing through a referendum in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. The referendum failed narrowly in May 2011 after an incredible war of attrition had been waged by the proponents. Clearly the time was not yet ripe for rejecting such a giant spectacle.

Message received

The new attempt at Munich’s candidacy for the 2022 Winter Olympics sought to obtain public approval ahead of the official candidacy in order to pre-empt any resistance. At least that’s what the prime movers had in mind.
Opponents to the Olympics were now able to capitalise on the knowledge they had gained during the 2018 candidacy. As the results of the vote in November 2013 illustrate, it transpired that many of the counter-arguments had now become firmly anchored in people’s minds:

  • Munich: 47.9% “Yes” votes versus 52.1% “No” votes (turnout: 28.8%)
  • Garmisch-Partenkirchen: 48.44% “Yes” votes versus 51.56% “No” votes (turnout: 58.8%)
  • Traunstein: 40.33% “Yes” votes versus 59.67% “No” votes (turnout: 39.98%)
  • Berchtesgadener Land: 45.9% “Yes” votes versus 54.1% “No” votes (turnout: 38.25%)

Olympic candidates and their arrogance

The contenders bidding for the Olympics underestimated the quality of the arguments put forward by the “Nolympia” opposition committee. They believed they could rely on celebrities and emotions. Monumental battles of attrition were intended to take the place of arguments – including announcements made on trains calling on passengers to vote in favour of the Olympic candidacy at the referendum, and a parish priest in Garmisch who called on his congregation to make the “right choice”.
It speaks volumes for the quality and resilience of the opponents to the Olympic Games and the sensible reasoning of the citizenry that, in this particular battle, David prevailed over Goliath with relative ease. Clearly the time was now ripe for a rejection of environmentally unsustainable mega-events. Equally telling was the extremely unfair way in which some of the elite athletes and officials reacted to the defeat. How would these very same people have dealt with the host towns had they won?

“Nolympia” organisation punching above its weight
“Nolympia” is organised as a loose network. There are no association structures in place. This meant it was very easy to get groups and individuals to integrate quickly. The www.Nolympia.de website proved to be a mainstay of the resistance movement, with all the information provided online (and it’s still there). “Nolympia” also showcased the strengths of volunteer work. While the candidates for the Olympics were forced to take down their websites and cease all their activities once the money had dried up, “Nolympia” battles on and the website is continually updated and maintained.

For more information: www.nolympia.de (de)


About the author

For 42 years Axel Doering worked as a forester in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, where he also sat for 18 years on the municipal council and the tourism committee. He is District Chairman of the Bund Naturschutz (BN) environmental organisation in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Spokesman for BN’s State Working Committee on the Alps. He holds the office of Vice President at CIPRA Germany.
In 2010 Axel Doering was one of the co-founders of the “Nolympia” network against the Munich 2018 and Munich 2022 candidacies for the Olympics.

Contact: doering@bn-gap.de