By Duncan Mackay

Thomas_Bach_presenting_for_Munich_in_New_Caledonia_March_26_2011March 27 - All three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics have travelled to Nouméa in New Caledonia to lobby for support from the Oceania National Olympic Committees (ONOC), who were holding their general assembly.

Pyeongchang promised that it would help expand winter sports in the region if their bid is successful while Munich offered the opportunity for countries to use their facilities through its Olympic Winter Friendship Programme.

Annecy, meanwhile, tried to emphasise the environmental aspects of their bid. 

Pyeongchang 2018, whose logo is "New Horizons", highlighted how its bid would help National Olympic Committees (NOCs) in areas of the world like Oceania and Asia develop more winter sports athletes and fans and expand the overall winter sports industry in new markets.

Yang Ho Cho, the chairman and chief executive of Pyeongchang 2018, said: "It would be a great honour for Pyeongchang to host the Winter Games in 2018, and we believe we can revitalise winter sport into a powerful driving force for Olympism.

"We are committed to creating Asia's first long-term and sustainable winter sport legacy that offers a world of 'New Horizons' for winter sports and the Olympic Movement."

Munich sent a high-level delegation headed by Thomas Bach, the President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation and vice-president of the International Olympic Committee, and Katarina Witt, the chair of Munich 2018 and a double Olympic ice skating champion.

The presentation focused on what Munich 2018 has to offer the Olympic Movement, both in the short- and long-term.

They pledged to elevate the celebration of winter sports whilst also guaranteeing the health and sustainability of the winter sports movement for generations to come.

Bach said: "It is a special pleasure for us to be here at ONOC because Germany has a very unique historic connection to this continental association.

"It was at the Baden-Baden Olympic Congress in Germany in 1981 that Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and New Guinea actually founded ONOC."

Witt unveiled the offer for athletes from countries in Oceania to train in Germany.

She said: "It is great to have the opportunity to share Munich 2018's vision with the Olympic family in Oceania this week and, as an athlete by heart, to reach out to athletes on a different continent.

"Munich 2018 will offer opportunities to athletes, coaches and federations from every sport and every nation through various training activities within the 'Olympic Winter Friendship Programme.'

"What's more, it will seek for the first time to bring together athletes from winter and summer sports in the framework of Germany's long-time development programme."

Annecy's delegation was led by bid President Charles Beigbeder and Denis Masseglia, the President of the French National Olympic Committee (CNOSF) and also included Solenne Figues, the 2004 Athens 200 metres freestyle bronze medallist, and Felicia Ballanger, a triple Olympic cycling gold medallist, who now lives in Nouméa.

Masseglia said: "We want to use the tremendous power of the Olympic Games to forge a path towards the mountains of the 21st century.

"The Games will make Annecy a hub of sporting excellence for training and coaching athletes from all seven continents."

Standing in front of national Olympic committees for the first time, Beigbeder thanked ONOC for "giving Annecy the opportunity to spend time with its members in this wonderful part of the world" expressed his joy at being able to "meet them and learn from them."

He added: "Annecy is full of surprises.

"And we aim to make the most of them in order to host memorable Games.

"Our city is known as the Venice of the Alps. We are blessed with a unique setting which has attracted millions of international visitors for more than a century.

Annecy 2018 will use the region's natural beauty and rich mountain legacy to organise exceptional Games."

As the countdown begins in earnest to the final vote at the IOC Session in Durban on July 6, the three bidders are now on a tight schedule making their final pitches to persuade the voters.

They will continue their international tour next week by taking part in Sport Accord from April 3-8 in London, then in the IOC presentation summit in Lausanne in May.

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]