Events

Events

Munich says 'no' - what's gone wrong with the 2022 Winter Olympics?

Samandeep Chohan

Makis Karteros

Posted: October 13, 2014

This piece is a report on the paper given by Thomas Konecke and Mathias Schubert at the 2014 EASM conference.

There was a time when Winter Olympics was about picturesque snowy villages in luxurious destinations for winter holidays in Europe or in the States. Currently, this is not the case and the bidding process for the Winter Olympics 2022 made this new trend very clear. Oslo in Norway, Stockholm in Sweden, St. Moritz in Switzerland, Munich in Germany, all have withdrawn from the bidding process to host the Games. But, why Europeans, traditionally very keen supporters and participants of winter sports, do not want their countries to host the biggest event of winter sports? Thomas Könecke and Mathias Schubert have studied the public opposition against Munich 2022 Olympic bid and how it was presented in the media and have some interesting answers.

Munich is not a new land for mega events. It is a prosperous city in a winter sport region, which has already hosted the Summer Olympics of 1972 and some football matches during the FIFA World Cup 2006 in Germany. Munich’s first attempt to bring the Winter Olympics in the region was for the 2018 Games. The bid cost €33 million was partly funded by public money, but it was Pyeongchang which became the city to host the Games.  Munich’s public authorities decided to revise and improve the bid book and a public vote in 2013 for the people to decide if they desire or not their city to bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

The results were absolutely clear in all four Alpine regions that would have staged the event. In Munich district 52.1% were against, in Traunstein 59.67%, in Berchtesgadener Land 54.1% andin Garmisch-Partenkirchen 51.56%. Consequently, Munich never applied for the Olympics.

But why there was such a clear opposition to a mega event, since, the relevant literature suggests that public opinion is mostly positive towards hosting sport mega events? According Könecke and Schubert it has to do with the contemporary perception of IOC and FIFA as “unjust” organisations having illegitimate claims.

The explanations and opinions transported via the media after the referendum confirm the researchers’ claim. In the material published in three nationwide German newspapers after the public vote, IOC and FIFA were associated with greed for profit, lack of transparency, oppressive contracts and undemocratic, while Olympic games were associated with gigantism and as an event not for the good of sport but for a small group of stakeholders. While, people feared negative consequences such as waste of public funds, cost explosions, construction noise, and environmental damages.  Eventually the rejection of the bid came as expression of critique of authoritarian states, due to mistrust against elite sport officials and organisations in general, due to lack of communication between stakeholders involved, due to better knowledge of people than in the past, due to negative attitude towards large scale projects in general, as there is no need for investments in Bavaria due to already high living standard.

The results of this research showcase that currently mega events, FIFA and IOC have a bad reputation due to recent incidents in Qatar, Sochi and Brazil and have clear implications about the brand image of international sport organisations and events, the revision of the election procedure for hosts of mega sports events, which now seems necessary and the requirements for candidates and host countries, which are perceived as not adequate.

About Samandeep Chohan

Samandeep is a recent Sport Management graduate at Coventry University who is seeking employment in the world of sport. He has worked in the ticketing and sales department for Coventry City Football Club, organised and coached sporting events and written for sporting blogs from the age of 16. Samandeep’s email address – chouhan3@uni.coventry.ac.uk

About Makis Karteros

Makis is currently writing a PhD on investment in human capital and its impact on football club’s performance.  He has been involved in the sports industry in many ways having worked for professional football clubs, media organisations and IT companies, in Greece and India.