The Munich 2018 bid committee submitted their bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics on January, 11, 2011, at IOC headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. In light of the German city’s candidacy for the 2018 Games, heinnews’s David Hein talked with bid ambassador and two-time Olympic figure skating gold medalist Katarina Witt about touring the world to support Munich 2018; the bid’s challenges; and what the bid committee can learn from the controversial World Cup awarding to Russia and Qatar.
heinnews: You have been around quite a bit in your career and then afterwards watching events, what has it been like for you touring to drum up support for Munich 2018?
Witt: It’s definitely something completely different than what I’ve done before, travelling as a figure skater on the competitive side, on the show side, being in TV shows. A lot of what you do is about yourself and presenting yourself. I think the major difference is that I present a team, I’m part of a big team and I present an idea – an idea we all have and a dream we all have. You present a bigger picture I guess. The good thing is I’ve been to the Olympics, I’ve skated at the Olympics three times, I’ve worked on the journalist side as a television expert for many years working for German TV and CBS as well in Albertville (1992). Now I see it from a side where I’m trying to convince people that this event where I have been that we want to be the hosts. So it’s a different kind of concept. But it’s a very challenging and very interesting kind of journey I’m going through right now.
heinnews: What was the biggest reason you wanted to get in on the Munich 2018 bid?
Witt: First of all I think we have good chances. With winter sport history we have with the knowledge of how to organize big events. And with the atmosphere which is created when the events happen in Germany, which is always very enthusiastic for all the athletes. And being an Olympian myself so many times, it’s a different stage in my life and I now feel like it would be wonderful to help bring an event to life in Germany for younger athletes and help them making their dreams come true. I know as an athlete that was my biggest dream to be on the stage of the Olympics and now being in a position where I can help to make younger peoples’ dreams to come true if the competition would be held in their home is something new for me.
heinnews: What would you say is Munich’s biggest challenge in the candidacy and bid?
Witt: I think the bid has incredible assets and incredible chances with what we already bring to the table with the history of the Summer Olympics and with the Olympic movement’s motto of don’t ever leave any white elephants. We have here the history that all the facilities have still been in use. I think the challenge in general is to conquer an event like this and to be able to organize an event like this. But in Munich they know how to organize big events like this. You saw with Octoberfest with millions of people there in two weeks at the same time there is a big concert where there are 30,000 people and at the same time there is soccer game with another 30,000 people. So they know how to handle millions of people at the same time and still have a smooth organization.
heinnews: How nervous will you be on July 6 when the 2018 hosts will be announced?
Witt: Well, I’ll be nervous every day until then for sure. But July 6 will definitely be a day that nobody from our team will ever forget.
heinnews: What will it mean when Jacques Rogge says: “The host city of the 2018 Winter Olympics is … Munich”? What kind of feelings will go through your mind?
Witt: Honestly, I don’t feel like I have the right to say what if. We have to wait and see what decision is made and then afterwards I can tell you what my thoughts are. Definitely it’s the dream of the team we have. A lot of other people are very enthusiastic about the idea but the decision will be made on July 6 and we will take it from there.
heinnews: There was a lot of talk and criticism after the awarding of the 2018 and 2022 soccer World Cups to Russia and Qatar, respectively. What can the bid committee learn or take from that whole process and implement into the Munich 2018 bid?
Witt: Well, it’s different. Bidding for the World Cup and bidding for the Olympics is a different ball game. Just by travelling around and being at all the events and competitions this is what we need to learn – how other events are creating, what are they looking for for the athletes. And I think on the other hand we already have so much knowledge and so much experience – look the World Cup happened four years ago in Germany and it was a huge success from an organizational standpoint and from the whole atmosphere. I think that every bidding process is a new process, and every decision is a new decision. I think it’s very difficult to compare one with the other.
heinnews: Last question, there is a parallel slalom event happening in Munich which is something very rare. What does the success of this event do for the Munich 2018 bid?
Witt: I think that all the winter competitions that are happening in Germany right now and all of the competitions which are ahead of us – with the World Championships in Garmisch, with the bobsleigh in Königsee – and there are a lot of big competitions that are coming up, it’s all for us a possibility to show how much experience we have in organizing big world cup events and world championships which is important for the athletes. The athletes deserve the best. They deserve the best organization. They deserve the best atmosphere. And they deserve the best event sites. And I think those are our assets and this is our possibility before the decision is made in July to show the people who are making the decision we have the right assets in Munich and Garmisch to put on a great event like the Olympic Games.