Garmisch votes on hosting 2018 Olympics

A referendum was held on Sunday in the Bavarian town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on whether the Winter Olympics should be held there in 2018.

Garmisch votes on hosting 2018 Olympics
In favour - Katarina Witt. Photo: DPA

Around 21,000 people had the right to vote on whether to join Munich in the bid to host the Winter Games at the foot of the Zugspitze mountain.

But organisers admitted that even a majority ‘No’ vote would not immediately stop the campaign to bring the Olympics to Bavaria – although Munich Mayor Christian Ude said a negative result from Garmisch-Partenkirchen would be a, “really bad blow.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will announce where the 2018 Winter Games will be held on July 6 at a ceremony in Durban, South Africa.

Munich is up against Pyeongchang in South Korea and Annecy in France. The support of the locals is considered a key factor.

“The IOC will only send the athletes to where they will be received with open arms,” said Katarina Witt, double Olympic ice skating champion and chief representative of the Munich campaign.

But opponents of the idea, who prompted the referendum, are urging the Garmisch-Partenkirchen authorities to check the contracts already signed with the IOC to try to find a way out of the competition. An independent expert has been appointed to check the contracts.

Witt said she hoped that a clear ‘Yes’ vote from Garmisch-Partenkirchen – where the ski competitions would be held – would serve as a motivational boost.

The IOC is due to publish its reports on the three candidate cities on Tuesday.


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Four injured as WWII bomb explodes near Munich train station

Four people were injured, one of them seriously, when a World War II bomb exploded at a building site near Munich's main train station on Wednesday, emergency services said.

Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich.
Smoke rises after the WWII bomb exploded on a building site in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Privat

Construction workers had been drilling into the ground when the bomb exploded, a spokesman for the fire department said in a statement.

The blast was heard several kilometres away and scattered debris hundreds of metres, according to local media reports.

Images showed a plume of smoke rising directly next to the train tracks.

Bavaria interior minister Joachim Herrmann told Bild that the whole area was being searched.

Deutsche Bahn suspended its services on the affected lines in the afternoon.

Although trains started up again from 3pm, the rail operator said there would still be delays and cancellations to long-distance and local travel in the Munich area until evening. 

According to the fire service, the explosion happened near a bridge that must be passed by all trains travelling to or from the station.

The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, police said. So far, there are no indications of a criminal act.

WWII bombs are common in Germany

Some 75 years after the war, Germany remains littered with unexploded ordnance, often uncovered during construction work.

READ ALSO: What you need to know about WWII bomb disposals in Germany

However, most bombs are defused by experts before they explode.

Last year, seven World War II bombs were found on the future location of Tesla’s first European factory, just outside Berlin.

Sizeable bombs were also defused in Cologne and Dortmund last year.

In 2017, the discovery of a 1.4-tonne bomb in Frankfurt prompted the evacuation of 65,000 people — the largest such operation since the end of the war in Europe in 1945.