April 6 - Opponents of Annecy's campaign to stage the 2018 Winter Olympics staked out the SportAccord convention here today in protest at the city's beleagured bid.
Delegates arriving at the Park Plaza Hotel in Westminster were confronted during the morning with a large black and white banner proclaiming "no to Annecy 2018" and handed a press release in English denouncing the city's bid.
France has not staged the winter games since Albertville in 1992 but Annecy is the rank outsider behind Munich and Pyeongchang in the three-city race, in part because of a change of bid leadership following of a budget dispute.
According to a group calling itself the Annecy Anti-Olympic Committee (CAO), 13,140 objectors have so far signed a petition against the bid.
"The candidacy was launched without the local population being either consulted or involved," said the handout, a copy of which has been seen by insidethegames.
"The reality is that much of the population does not want these Games and we are determined to act to make ourselves heard."
The Annecy Bid was left in tatters last year when the International Olympic Committee warned the French city they needed to dramatically alter their plans and make them more compact if they were to be allowed to continue to bid.
Then chief executive Edgar Grospiron stepped down, citing a lack of financial support and was replaced by Charles Beigbeder (pictured), who has done his best to turn the situation around.
But opponents say the bid is still fundamentally flawed. "We denounce a project financially disproportionate to our small city when so many people's daily needs are not met," said the CAO, who promised to step up their lobbying in the weeks leading up to the July 6 vote in Durban.
"Despite official discourse, the project as designed will seriously affect the fragile ecological balance of our territory."
April 2011: Beigbeder hoping Sarkozy sparkle can bring Winter Olympics to Annecy
March 2011: Annecy 2018 chances hit by growing public opposition
March 2011: Winter Olympic bidders take 2018 message to New Caledonia
March 2011: £1.3 million partnership boost for Annecy 2018 Bid
March 2011: "We are back in the same line" as Munich and Pyeongchang claims French Sports Minister