By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year

altSeptember 27 - The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission will begin its inspection tour of the three cities bidding to host the 2018 Olympics and Paralympics in Annecy on February 9, they announced today.

The Commission, chaired by Sweden's Gunilla Lindberg, will spend four days in France before heading to South Korea to visit Pyeongchang.

They will begin their visit there on February 16 and leave on February 19.

There will be a brief break before they complete the visits by travelling to Munich to begin their inspection on March 1, ending on March 4.

The Commission will then produce a report that is expected to be published a month before the IOC Session meets in Durban on July 6 to choose the host city.

The details of the inspection visits emerged as Munich launched its "PROlympia" campaign, which will promote the Bavarian capital's bid to become the first city in Olympic history to host both the Summer and Winter Games.

altDouble Olympic champion Maria Riesch (pictured), who was introduced as the face of the initiative, distributed branded friendship bracelets to prominent friends all over the world.
Vancouver 2010’s super-combined and slalom champion explained what it would mean to her to help bring the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to her hometown in 2018: 
"As an athlete and a resident of Garmisch-Partenkirchen, my support for Munich 2018 comes from the bottom of my heart," said Riesch, who won the super-combined and slalom at the Olympics Vancouver earlier this year.

"The Olympic Games are the biggest career highlight for every athlete.

"And I could be one of the few athletes in the world to have the Games at home, as a competitor."
Katarina Witt, the chairman of Munich 2018, echoed her fellow Olympian’s enthusiasm.

"‘I’m delighted that Maria, as an active sportswoman and a role model for young athletes, will encourage her friends and colleagues to rally around and help make our dream to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Munich come true," she said.

"Maria’s wholehearted engagement is very welcome in itself; but this level of commitment from a competing Olympian is also yet another great indication that we are following the right path with our athlete-friendly concept."

Riesch has is hoping to enjoy the kind of atmosphere that helped make the World Cup in Germany four years ago so successful.

"Garmisch-Partenkirchen is a superb host every year at the alpine World Cup.

"Many of my colleagues have told me what a unique venue it is, and how they love to compete in front of Germany’s passionate crowds.

"The electric atmosphere at the 2006 FIFA World Cup is still firmly in people’s minds, and we’d love to get the chance to recreate and exceed this atmosphere in 2018.

"I want to contribute to the momentum of Munich’s bid with the full extent of my commitment and dedication."

In another show of high-profile support for Munich’s bid today, the Bavarian capital’s Mayor, Christian Ude, posed for photographs in front of the newly-branded Ferris wheel at the heart of the Oktoberfest.

The wheel now carries the Munich 2018 logo and the message, "Sportsfest congratulates Folkfest on its 200th birthday".

The enormous banner will be on prominent display to the 4 million visitors from across the globe expected to visit the Oktoberfest between now and October 3.

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