By Duncan Mackay

Munich_2018_polar_bear_GiovanniMarch 28 - Munich 2018 today began counting down the final 100 days before the International Olympic Committee (IOC) elects the host city for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics when they joined by a very special addition to the team: Giovanna the polar bear has become their newest official ambassador.

Giovanna, the star attraction at Munich's popular Hellabrunn Zoo, is to appear on large banners sporting her Munich 2018 scarf that will promote the bid to up to 17,000 people who visit the zoo daily.

Giovanna is a former companion of Knut, the polar bear who became a superstar at Berlin Zoo.

The two shared a enclosure in Berlin while Giovanna's den in Munich was being renovated and it was hoped that the two would one day mate.

Giovanna moved back to Munich while Knut collapsed and died unexpectedly earlier this month at the age of four.

Giovanna is now arguably Germany's most famous polar bear.

Jürgen Bühl, the managing director of Munich 2018, was thrilled to be entering the campaign's final push.

"The final 100-day countdown has started. Having such a successful IOC Evaluation Commission visit pushed our bid forward," he said.

Munich_2018_poster_of_polar_bear"We are entering the home straight and we want to cross the finishing line in first place.

"We are now preparing for the next important milestones: SportAccord from 3 to 8 April [in London]; and the technical presentation to the IOC in Lausanne in May.

"It is very important for us to use the international presentations to communicate our strengths to the world of sport's most influential players and share with them our vision of a holistic Festival of Friendship."

Munich 2018 also announced plans for a series of events in Bavaria on July 6, the day the IOC will pick its host city at its Session in Durban on July 6.

The announcement from IOC President Jacques Rogge will be broadcast live onto a huge screen on Munich's historic Marienplatz.

Annecy and Pyeongchang are also bidding for the 2018 Games.

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