Residents of Hamburg, Germany -- one of the five cities in the running for hosting the 2024 Olympics -- voted against holding the sporting event in the city in a referendum Sunday. Hamburg’s withdrawal leaves only Los Angeles, Budapest, Rome and Paris in the running for the right to host the world’s biggest sporting event.
Nearly 52 percent of the 650,000 votes cast in a Sunday referendum were against the bid, with many reportedly calling the multi-billion dollar event “wasteful.” Germany last hosted the games in 1972, in Munich.
“We expected a different result,” bid company CEO Nikolas Hill reportedly said. “The result nevertheless is clear for us, we have to accept it. There will be no discussion or rethinking it. That is it. That is what they wanted.”
In October, Hamburg Mayor Olaf Scholz said that the games would cost an estimated 11.2 billion euros ($12.6 billion), of which 7.4 billion euros ($7.8 billion) would be drawn from taxpayers. Scholz announced at the time that the remaining 3.8 billion euros would come from the International Olympic Committee (IOC), sponsors, ticket sales and merchandising.
The rejection of the Olympic bid comes just two years after voters in Munich turned down proposals to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. At the time, the NOlympia organization, which had campaigned against the event, cited the “non-transparency and the greed for profit of the IOC” as reasons for not supporting the bid.
“I think all possible Olympic bids in Germany are now out of question. The IOC has to change first. It's not the venues that have to adapt to the IOC, but the other way around,” Ludwig Hartmann, a leader of the organization, reportedly said at the time.
Over the years, the IOC has been plagued by a series of corruption allegations. Most recently, Lamine Diack, a former president of the International Athletics Federation who is accused of accepting more than one million euros ($1.07 million) in bribes in 2011 to cover up positive doping tests of Russian athletes, resigned as an honorary member of the IOC.
Following Sunday’s referendum, an IOC spokesman said that “a great opportunity for the city, the country and sport in Germany” had been lost.
“Having followed the discussions in Germany over the last weeks, this result does not come as a complete surprise,” the spokesman reportedly said. “Now there will be a strong competition with four excellent candidate cities. With these strong competitors we all can look forward to [an] exciting Olympic Games 2024, whoever the winner will be.”