By Duncan Mackay

LomeJune 26 - The three cities bidding for the 2018 Winter Olympics and Paralympics are all heading for Lome in Togo as the finish line of the long race begins to loom into view.

Annecy, Munich and Pyeongchang are each sending high-level delegations to attend the Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) being held in the city, which sits on the Gulf of Guinea and, where there are expected to be up to six International Olympic Committee (IOC) members attending.

The cities are due make presentations on Tuesday (June 28), their last before they travel to Durban where the IOC will be choosing the winner on July 6 at its Session.

Charles Beigbeder, the President of Annecy 2018, will be accompanied by the 2002 Olympic slalom champion Jean-Pierre Vidal, who is a bid vice-president, and Denis Masseglia, President of the French National Olympic and Sports Committee.

He is continuing to insist that Annecy can still win despite the fact that half of the city's citizens oppose the bid.

"This will be the last lap of our international tour promoting our bid, before 6 July and the verdict in Durban," he said.

"I would like to give heartfelt thanks to ANOCA for giving us this final opportunity to present the bid in which we believe so strongly.

"This is a bid we believe we can win and the team will be doing all they can to show the IOC Annecy would be the best and most nurturing home possible for the Winter Games in 2018."

Munich, whose bid appears to have been gathering momentum in the last month, will be led by Katarina Witt, the 1984 and 1988 Olympic skating champion who is the chair of the campaign, and also include Thomas Bach, the President of the German Olympic Sports Confederation (DOSB) and the vice-president of the IOC, and Bernhard Schwank, the chief executive of the bid.

Their message will centre on its outreach programme, which gives developing nations the opportunity to train in Germany, including trying out winter sports for the first time.

"It is great to have the opportunity to share Munich 2018's vision with the Olympic family this week, especially as I'm sure many of the people here may already have experienced the benefits of the DOSB's outreach programme," said Witt.

"We will offer opportunities to athletes and coaches from every sport and every nation; Munich 2018 is committed to using our excellent resources to help strengthen the Olympic Movement.

"The DOSB has been running a groundbreaking NOC (National Olympic Committee) outreach programme for 50 years.

"A total of 1,300 projects spanning five continents have touched the lives of over 100,000 athletes."

Pyeongchang, meanwhile, are hoping that the presence of Olympic skating champion Kim Yu-Na will impress the Africans.

She will be joined by Yang Ho Cho, the Pyeongchang 2018 chairman and chief executive, and Park Yong-sung, President of the Korean Olympic Committee (KOC).

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