March 27 - Poland and Slovakia's Prime Ministers have officially backed a joint bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, which would be the first time either country has staged the Games.
The countries' leaders announced the bid after meeting in the Slovak town of Poprad, at the foot of the Tatra Mountains where Alpine skiing disciplines would be held to make up for a lack of suitable terrain in mostly flat Poland.
"We have a clear vision," said Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico (pictured top right).
"We are not interested in any megalomania,
"The Olympics will be the best advertisement for both countries and it could be an economic success story,"
The Games would aim to build on the 2012 UEFA European Championships, which Poland co-hosted with Ukraine, and Slovakia's experience with hosting the ice hockey World Championships in 2011.
Ukraine could be among Poland's opponents on this occasion, as Lviv is expected to bid.
The historic southern Polish city of Krakow, the country's second largest city, would be the centre for the Games.
Krakow would also host the majority of the events played on ice, while Zakopane, Poland's winter capital, would handle snowboarding, cross country skiing and the biathlon.
The Slovaks are keen on hosting ice hockey and skiing events, including in Jasna.
Slovak investors have upgraded ski lifts and services at the Chopok and Jasna ski resort in the Tatras, drawing in tourists from surrounding countries but more infrastructure investment would be needed to prepare the region for the Games' visitors.
Fico brushed aside questions about whether the costs of hosting the Games would be justified, especially as the Euro zone struggles with its lengthy debt crisis.
"We have crisis now," he said.
"Should we crawl under the table?
"When we have crisis, we should not think about the future, ignore any chances that come up?"
The main obstacle to a successful joint bid from Slovakia and Poland could be the disapproval of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), who have never previously sanctioned such a proposal.
But the Olympic Charter does allow it, under Rule 35.2 which says: "For the Olympic Winter Games, when for geographical or topographical reasons it is impossible to organise certain events or disciplines of a sport in the country of the host city, the IOC may, on an exceptional basis, authorise the holding of them in a bordering country."
Poland Prime Minister Donald Tusk (pictured top left) claimed that neither country on its own would be capable of bidding successfully for the Olympics.
"We will never live to see a time when Poland or Slovakia will win the fight for the right to hold the Olympic Games," he said.
"Together we have a great chance.
"This is not a dream but a concrete plan,"
The deadline for bids to the IOC is November 14, with the winner due to be announced on July 31, 2015, at the Session in Kuala Lumpur.
Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]
March 2013: Slovakian Government backs joint bid with Poland for 2022 Winter Olympics
November 2012: Poland set for 2022 Winter Olympic and Paralympic bid