Hamburg drops 2024 Olympics bid after referendum defeat

The citizens of Hamburg on Sunday rejected a bid to host the 2024 summer Olympics with more than half voting against it in a referendum, killing the candidacy in its infancy, Hamburg mayor Olaf Scholz said.
An aerial view shows thousands of people wearing colourful ponchos to form the Olympic rings to support Hamburg's bid for the Olympics 2024, in a park in Hamburg, Germany on Nov. 8. At left, protesters against Hamburg's Olympic bid laid the word "NO" next to the giant Olympic logo, but backers formed the letter W to turn the word into “NOW.” (Daniel Bockwoldt/The Associated Press)

The citizens of Hamburg, Germany, on Sunday rejected a bid to host the 2024 Summer Olympics with more than half voting against it in a referendum, killing the candidacy in its infancy, they city's mayor, Olaf Scholz, said.

"We expected a different result," bid CEO Nikolas Hill 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."

Close to 52 per cent voted against the $14.9 billion project that was bidding along with Los Angeles, Rome, Paris and Budapest to host the world's biggest multi-sports event.

Hill said a string of unrelated events, including the Paris attacks earlier this month and global sports scandals in soccer and athletics, affected voters.

"The attacks in Paris, the [German World Cup 2006] affair, the refugee situation, the doping scandals. They did not have anything to do with this but it has been irritating and disturbing people," Hill told a conference call.

Germany has to accept a second referendum defeat in two years with Munich's plans for the 2022 Winter Games thwarted by a 2013 local vote.

The rejection is also a blow to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) whose wide-ranging reforms voted in last year were aimed at making the Games more attractive to host cities.

Hamburg's concept involved the Games being held in the Kleiner Grasbrook area, technically an island but only a 10-minute walk from the city centre, that would have become the Olympic park and offered athletes and spectators short distances to travel to the competition venues.

"The people of Hamburg took a decision and Hamburg will not be bidding to host the 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games," Scholz told reporters. "The senate and myself would have wished a different result but it is clear. It is a binding decision."

Germans never showed widespread support for Hamburg, picked over Berlin earlier this year. Germany's football association (DFB) is mired in a bribery scandal that bid chief Nikolas Hill said was doing Hamburg's candidacy no favours.

"We have to accept the vote of the citizens," said German Olympic Sports Confederation chief Alfons Hoermann. "Olympics and Germany are not a good match at the moment."

Support had been steadily dropping with the Paris attacks earlier this month raising more security concerns.

The IOC will elect a winner in 2017.