March 3 - Switzerland's proposed bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics in St Moritz and Davos has been ended after a state referendum today rejected the idea.
Voters in Graubünden canton voted 52.66 per cent to 47.34 per cent to decide against approving funding of 300 million Swiss francs (£212 million/$318 million/€245 million).
The turnout was 59 per cent.
Swiss officials had estimated that the Games would cost 2.46 billion Swiss francs (£1.7 billion/$2.6 billion/€2.1 billion) to host.
The no voters rejected bid organisers' claims that Olympic hosting would help tourism in the area and boost the local economy.
"The vote of the electors is a big disappointment," said a statement from Graubünden 2022, whose Bid Committee included Rene Fasel, the Swiss President of the International Ice Hockey Federation and a member of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) ruling Executive Board.
"The association Graubünden 2022 regrets this decision very much.
St. Moritz and Davos residents also voted today, and returned yes votes by 61 and 56.2 per cent respectively.
But all three votes had to be in favour to continue a bid that had been supported by the Swiss Government and sports governing bodies.
The main opposition came from Chur, a gateway town at the foot of the Alps and which claims to be the oldest town in Switzerand.
Jon Pult, chairman of the Graubünden cantonal group of the Social Democrats, had warned on the eve of the referendum that staging the Olympics would be "catastrophic" for the development of Graubünden's mountain areas.
His party, along with other organisations and individuals from the political centre left and green camps had established a "Olympics-Critical Graubünden Committee", claiming that the Games would ruin the local environment.
The cantonal Government admitted it disappointed by the result.
"We had a chance to show Switzerland what we know how to do and didn't seize the opportunity," said Graubünden President Hansjörg Trachsel.
The Swiss Federal Council had last September ruled that public funds should cover 1 billion Swiss francs (£706 million/$1.1 billion/€814 million) of the projected shortfall from staging the Olympics.
A feasibility study published last year estimated an income of 1.5 billion Swiss francs (£1.1 billion/$1.6 billion/€1.2 billion) from hosting the Games.
Switzerland, despite being the country where the IOC is based, has not hosted the Olympics since St Moritz staged the Winter Games in 1948.
This is not the first time that a popular vote had forced a Swiss region to give up its ambitions to host the Olympics: the population of Bern massively rejected its planned candidacy to host the 2010 Games, which were awarded to Vancouver.
Sion had also failed with bids for 2002 and 2006, which were awarded to Salt Lake City and Turin respectively.
"Now, new ideas for a the future of Graubünden are required," said the bid team in its statement.
"Graubünden 2022 therefore calls on all political and social forces of the canton to share thoughts about the economic future of Graubünden and its valleys and take the appropriate measures quickly."
The Swiss vote, along with the United States Olympic Committee's decision to concentrate on bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, throws the race for 2022 wide open.
A Swiss bid had been widely considered the favourite but their absence from the race means there is no front runner now.
Other cities who have investigated bidding include Barcelona, Lviv in the Ukraine and Zakopane in Poland while Norwegian capital Oslo may also be a candidate.
The IOC is due to choose the host city as its Session in Kuala Lumpur in July 2015.
The deadline for cities wanting to bid is November 14 later this year.
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August 2012: Switzerland aspires to "return Olympics to its roots" with its 2022 Winter Games bid
January 2012: Switzerland appoints top official to investigate 2022 Olympic bid
January 2011: "Switzerland is a country of winter sports" so let's bid for 2022 Olympics
November 2010: Swiss bid for 2022 could hit Annecy and Munich 2018 Olympic chances