INTERVIEW-Olympics-Witt hopes German Greens have change of heart

BELGRADE Fri Nov 26, 2010 4:40pm EST

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BELGRADE Nov 26 (Reuters) - Katarina Witt believes a better presentation of Munich's bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics could help persuade Germany's Green Party to support the city's efforts to win the race, the bid leader said on Friday.

The Greens, in opposition but rising in the opinion polls as the country's third biggest political force, last week rejected Munich's bid in a narrow party vote, calling the plan "anything but ecologically exemplary".

"It was a very close race, it was done at the end of a very long day and we think it was not the right presentation there," Witt told Reuters in Belgrade at the sidelines of a European Olympic committees meeting.

"We have to develop the concept with a lot of distinguished Green Party members who are supporting the bid and I have the feeling that in a few months from now, hopefully, they will get behind us when they see the essence of our bid," the double Olympic figure skating gold medallist said.

Competing with France's Annecy and South Korea's Pyeongchang, Munich has been given the German government's full backing in its efforts to become the first city to host the Summer and Winter Games.

MUNICH TRAGEDY

Speaking about the 1972 Munich Summer Olympics, when members of the Israeli team were taken hostage and killed by the Black September guerrilla group, Witt said:

"Those games will be remembered for that tragedy but until it happened, everyone saw it as a great and well-organised Olympics with the right spirit and many IOC members who were there still have wonderful memories of Munich '72."

"We should look more at the 2006 (soccer) World Cup in Germany, the entire world still talks about it and how great and festive the atmosphere was with stadiums full of people from all over the world having fun."

Although fairly confident the plethora of winter sports facilities in Bavaria gives Munich an edge over its rivals, Witt said she expected a tight race in next July's International Olympic Committee vote in Durban, South Africa.

"There are three candidates who all have great bids to offer and it's a long journey with seven more months to go, so you can never sit back and relax."

"We have to try to be forceful until the end, it's never a flat road and we have to do our best to get around the bumps and improve our bid all the time," she said.

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