Prime Minister to Durban for Annecy; Madrid Encouragement; Minneapolis Balks at 2020; Switzerland 2022

(ATR) French Prime Minister for Durban ... Rogge said to encourage Madrid... Minneapolis won't bid for 2020 ... Switzerland studies options for 2022 ...

Prime Minister Leads French Winter Olympics Bid in Durban

French Prime Minister François Fillon will lead the delegation from Annecy to the IOC Session in Durban next week.

Fillon confirmed his participation after French President Nicolas Sarkozy decided not to attend. Around the Rings reported earlier this week that Durban would not be included in his schedule for next week.

According to weekly Paris Match, Sarkozy does not believe does not believe Annecy has a shot next to PyeongChang and Munich for the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Sarkozy made the trip to Annecy for February's visit from the IOC Evaluation Commission, but Fillon has probably made more public appearances on behalf of the bid.

Also demurring from travelling to Durban is German Chancellor Angela Merkel. German President Christian Wulff will be the top government leader travelling to Durban for Munich, along with the federal minister of the interior. The Korean bid will have it'shighest ranking national government leader, President Myung Bak Lee.

"It is fantastic news for Annecy 2018 that the Prime Minister of France, Francois Fillon, will lead with the minister of sports Chantal Jouanno the French delegation in Durban," said bid president Charles Beigbeder in a statement.

"We are proud that Francois Fillon, the head of our government, has had a close association with the bid during the campaign and met personally with the IOC Evaluation Commission in Annecy in February 2011.

"His presence in Durban shows how much Annecy 2018 means to our country and how strong our desire is to work in partnership with the IOC to use the global platform of the French Alps to benefit winter sports all over the globe," says the Annecy bid chief.

But news of Fillon’s participation comes with word that two prominent government leaders from the Annecy region won’t come to Durban. Reports from France say that Jack Queyranne, the regional president of Rhone-Alpes, and Eric Fournier, mayor of Chamonix, will stay in France for the July 6 vote.

Annecy is located in the Rhones-Alpes region and Chamonix is set to host alpine events, hockey and a second Olympic Village.

Rogge Boost for Madrid 2020 Bid

IOC president Jacques Rogge is urging Madrid to bid for the 2020 Olympics, according to Spain's sports minister Albert Soler.

Soler claimed Rogge had told him Madrid bid would be a "strong" one as it didn't required massive investment, if the city decides to try for a third consecutive time to win Olympic hosting rights, AP reported.

Madrid was beaten by Rio de Janeiro in the final round of voting for the 2016 Olympics. It lost out to London for the 2012 Games. The city was also unsuccessful in its pitch for the 1972 Olympics.

Madrid Mayor Alberto Ruiz Gallardon is expected to announce the city's intentions in the coming weeks.

Rome is the only city to have declared its 2020 Olympic ambitions. The IOC deadline for NOC submissions is Sept. 1

Soler took over from Jaime Lissavetzky as sports minister in April. He could yet be the man to lead a 2020 bid from Madrid.

Minneapolis Not Interested in 2020

City officials say Minneapolis has no plans to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics.

A day after Associated Press listed the Minnesota metropolis among five potential U.S. candidates, the state’s top newspaper reports otherwise.

According to Star Tribune, neither the mayor's office nor the city's tourism arm is aware of any efforts – or desire – to campaign for the Games.

Minneapolis lost out to Atlanta as the U.S. candidate city for 1996.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has until Sept. 1 to notify the IOC which city – if any – will bid for 2020.

CEO Scott Blackmun indicated this week that the USOC must still resolve the contentious revenue-sharing issue with the IOC before considering a follow-up to Chicago’s failed 2016 run.

The USOC has had conversations "with a handful of different cities that approached us," he said after a Tuesday board meeting, refusing to elaborate whether usual suspects New York, Los Angeles or Dallas were among them.

Tulsa, Oklahoma has never before bid but is expressing some interest this time around.

Switzerland Studies 2022 Bid Options

The evaluation of a potential Swiss bid for the 2022 Winter Games is among the first tasks for a newly formed sports consultancy.

Infront Ringier announced Thursday a partnership with the Swiss Olympic Association that charges a portion of its staff with examining both the feasibility of a bid as well as its likelihood of success.

"The initial aim of the project team will be to analyze if Switzerland will apply for the 2022 Games and decide, if so, which region has the best chance of providing the ideal environment and winning the bid," Infront said in a statement, adding that former Nike marketing director Sven Zehnder will lead the team.

In late March, Swiss cities Davis and St. Moritz presented a joint bid to NOC leaders, who are expected to decide later this year whether to campaign for 2022.

Next week’s IOC vote in Durban is sure to factor into that decision. Should Annecy, France or Munich win the 2018 Games over PyeongChang, South Korea, the chances for a Swiss bid would probab;y become more difficult. St. Moritz hosted the 1928 and 1948 Winter Olympics.

Written by Ann Cantrell and Matthew Grayson.