By Duncan Mackay at SportAccord in London

Katarina_Witt_London_SportAccord_April_5_2011April 5 - Corporate Germany is set to throw its full weight behind Munich's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics as the campaign enters a critical phase here at SportAccord.

Munich and its rivals, Annecy and Pyeongchang, are all set to give presentations on Thursday (April 7) and are lobbying hard with only three months left to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Durba on July 6, where the host city will be chosen. 

The message that Munich is trying to get across is that a vote for them will be a financial boost for the future of winter sports.

Katarina Witt, the two-time Olympic skating gold medalist who chairs the Munich bid, claimed companies including BMW and Audi pay a total of €2.6 billion (£2.6 million/$3.7 billion) a year in sports sponsorship in Germany.

Half of the sponsorship revenues of the seven Olympic international winter sports federations comes from German companies, she said.

"This shows how much German companies are behind winter sports," said Witt.

Germany's leading role in sports sponsorship is expected to figure prominently in Munich's official presentation.

Witt said Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, will be part of the presentation focusing on the "business side."

"German companies bring in about 50 per cent of the sponsorships for the winter sports international federations," she said.

"This is why we have Ian Robertson here to join our delegation."

Witt tried to claim downplay the the May 8 referendum on the bid in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the mountain resort that would host the Olympic skiing events and hosted the 1936 Games.

"We're quite positive of the outcome," Witt said.

"It's about a majority," she said.

Some Bavarian landowners have objected to giving up their land for the Olympics, but one key opponent agreed to let his land be used for this year's Alpine Skiing World Championships.

"We are very positive this will also happen for the Olympics," Witt said.

"It's one small piece of land in the field of play."

Witt acknowledged that IOC members are following the issue closely but appeared to be relaxed about the situation.

"Of course they ask about it," she said.

"We're positive.

We're honest about it.

"We're open about it.

"We have nothing to hide.

"It's part of our culture.

"It's a democracy.

"People are allowed to express their opinions.

"There will always be a few people who are against a chance or against a big event."

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