Hamburg has been chosen by Germany as its candidate city for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympic, it was announced today.
The decision to choose Hamburg ahead of the capital city Berlin was confirmed at a press conference by German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) President Alfons Hörmann.
It followed a meeting in Frankfurt of the eight-member DOSB's ruling Bureau, who chose Hamburg after listening to presentations from both them and Berlin and who then took the advice of 43 experts representing sports, politics and civil society.
"We agreed by majority for the city of Hambug and that is why we are standing here today, united, with this recommendation," said Hörmann.
"It was not an easy choice.
"Hamburg has presented a fascinating Olympic concept.
"It wants to show Hamburg as a north German metropolis, as a northern European metropolis."
The final decision has to be officially approved at an Extraordinary General Assembly of the DOSB in Frankfurt on Saturday (March 21), but this is expected to be a formality.
An important factor appears to have been an opinion poll published last week which showed 64 per cent of Hamburg residents approve the city hosting the Olympics, compared to 55 per cent in Berlin, whose unsuccessful bid for the 2000 Games was undermined by violent protests against it.
"There were various points that helped us make our decision," Hörmann said.
"We had to consider the prevailing support in the cities, and the result of the survey was one of the things that played a role here."
But Hörmann also claimed that the compactness of Hamburg's bid and its plan to use as many existing facilities as possible was also an important factor.
"The city fits exactly to the Agenda 2020 reform of the IOC (International Olympic Committee)," he said.
Hamburg is now expected to hold a local referendum before September to get final approval from its citizens.
Munich's bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics was scuppered when it failed to secure enough support from local people to back it.
Hörmann, however, believes that the DOSB and Hamburg will learn the lessons from that defeat.
"We are confident going into the continuing discussion," he said
"We think the Games are worth it and we will also talk to critics in a structured way,"
Hamburg's Mayor Olaf Scholz also claimed he was optimstic he city would back an Olympic bid in a referendum.
Hamburg is Germany's second biggest city with a population of 1.75 million and is the eighth largest in the European Union.
"Two thirds of the citizens of Hamburg advocate having Olympic Games in their city," Scholz said following today's decision.
"We are excited by the prospect of hosting the Olympics."
Germany has not hosted the Olympics since 1972 when Munich staged a Games overshadowed by a terrorist attack which left 11 members of Israel's team and a police officer dead.
Before that, the only other occasion Germany had staged the Summer Games was in 1936 when Berlin hosted the "Nazi Olympics", which Adolf Hitler saw as an opportunity to promote his Government and ideals of racial supremacy.
Hamburg join a field that already includes Boston and Rome, who had already officially declared that they will bid for the 2024 Olympics and Paralympics.
Paris is expected to announce soon it will try again to bring the Games back to the French capital for the first time since 1924.
Cities have until September 15 to formally enter the race, and the the International Olympic Committee is due to choose the host destination at its 2017 Session in Peruvian capital Lima.
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February 2015: German Olympic Committee to meet with IOC as part of 2024 bid Invitation Phase
January 2015: Referendum to take place in Berlin if city chosen as German contender in 2024 Olympic race