(ATR) The federation presidents for biathlon, bobsleigh and curling tell Around the Ringsthere are no weak candidates in the three-way race for hosting rights to the 2018 Winter Olympics.
ATRspoke with each of the seven winter sports heads earlier this year about their respective world championships but also made sure to ask about the decision facing IOC members next week in Durban.
In this first of three installments,Anders Besseberg of the International Biathlon Union (IBU), Ivo Ferriani of the International Bobsleigh & Skeleton Federation (FIBT) and Kate Caithness of the World Curling Federation (WCF) give their takes on the bids, their proposed venues and the promise they offer for the growth of winter sport.
Around the Rings: What is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?
Anders Besseberg: Of course, we knew the bid from PyeongChang from earlier, and they have been losing by just a very few votes a couple of times, so there is no doubt they are a very strong bid.
Also, Munich and a lot of the facilities around Munich we know from earlier because the surroundings of Munich are already a very traditional winter sport place, so it’s no doubt Munich is also a strong bid, according to my opinion.
And Annecy hasn’t had too many of the big international competitions – more or less not at all in biathlon close to there – but they are coming on now, so we would also in the coming years have biathlon events up at Le Grand-Bornand, which is known for its finishing legs of the ski tour.
Those people are experienced in organizing big events, so they are anyway a strong runner-up, to say it that way.
ATR: Have you visited the bid cities and their proposed venues?
AB: Not really. Of course, we had our 2009 world championships in PyeongChang, and this place for biathlon in the bid of Annecy I’ve seen. Munich, I’ve just not been there because it’s not ready, but we know of stadiums in Germany like Oberhof, which is one of the world’s top biathlon stadiums. Also, there is a very very big interest for the sport of biathlon in Germany. They have absolutely full stadiums for every race, whether it’s a weekday race or a weekend race, so I’m not afraid of that.
ATR: Is it more important to bring the Olympics to a country that doesn’t necessarily have a long history and familiarity with biathlon or to stage the Games in a country where the sport is already entrenched?
AB: This depends a bit on the situation. Today we don’t have any special needs for one or the other. The most important thing for us is that it be a place that at least has good, equal and fair conditions.
BOBSLEIGH & SKELETON
ATR: What is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?
Ivo Ferriani: As an international federation, you always look for the best solution for your sport. As far as I have seen, the bid documents of all three candidates give the FIBT great opportunities, and all of them for sure have the capability to host the Games.
So may the best one win. We are looking forward to the decision being taken in July in Durban.
ATR: Koenigssee, Germany hosted your federation’s world championships back in February but is also the proposed venue for Munich 2018. Is the sliding center there ready for Olympic bobsled and skeleton?
IF: We had great world championships in Koenigssee. Some parts of the track were changed to follow up the latest standard. Spectators now have huge stands in the start and finish areasnow, so they have the most modern track in the world and therefore are ready for the Games.
ATR: Bobsleigh and skeleton are definitely more entrenched in Munich than they are in the other two candidate cities, but would hosting the Winter Olympics in Annecy or PyeongChang help grow the sliding sports more if awarded the 2018 Games?
IF: For the 2018 Winter Games, all three cities for me are acceptable.
The task of our federation is to develop our sport. Again, I won’t say anything regarding one bid or the other.
ATR: Have you heard from any athletes about their 2018 preferences?
IF: The athletes of my federation are focusing now on Sochi. We’re still too far away from 2018, and the athletes at the top of the sport won’t necessarily be around for 2018. At the moment, they are absolutely focusing on Sochi.
ATR:What is your federation looking for in the bids from Annecy, Munich and PyeongChang?
Kate Caithness: Well, the arena is obviously the first priority, and then after that the legacy for the sport. I think each bid is unique and brings something special to our sport.
For instance, in Annecy, [we have] the mix of sports and the legacy facilities in Chamonix. In Munich, we’ve got the use of an iconic venue in the 1972 swimming pool, and that’s where actually the curling would take place. And PyeongChang is somewhere we’ve already staged an event, a very successful event, and now to have the chance to go back and build on that is an exciting opportunity for our sport.
ATR: Have you visited each of the bid cities? What concerns do you have about their proposed curling venues?
KC: We have been to each of the cities, but honestly we don’t have any concerns. They each have really worked hard to put their bids in place, and we’ve no concerns with anything regarding that.
ATR: Which city would help grow your sport the most if awarded the 2018 Winter Games?
KC: I think each of the three cities would certainly ensure the growth of curling. I don’t think we want to be saying one over the other because I know each of the three cities would most certainly ensure the growth of the sport.
ATR: Have you heard anything from curlers about their 2018 preferences?
KC: No, not really. Nobody’s actually spoken to us about this. Nobody’s brought this to us and wanted to chat about it.
Interviews conducted by Matthew Grayson.