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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

NZ Winter 2022 bid 'long way off'

Mon, 17 Jan 12:08:00 2011

New Zealand Olympic chiefs have played down suggestions of a bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics despite offering a solution to a potential clash with the Qatar FIFA World Cup.
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Last week International Olympic Committee president Jacques Rogge played down the potential for further conflict with his FIFA counterpart Sepp Blatter, insisting the Winter Olympics would not budge to accommodate the 2022 World Cup which is set take place in winter, such is the height of the Qatari summer.
The window of opportunity to avoid a clash is small however and uncertainty could cause problems in terms of securing sponsorship and TV rights deals for both FIFA and the IOC, while Rogge did reveal he would seek talks with Blatter once FIFA have confirmed the dates for the 2022 World Cup.
One potential solution would see a southern hemisphere city host the 2022 Winter Olympics in June or July, effectively trading places with the World Cup with an ambitious organisation – New Zealand 2022 Winter Olympic Bid – wanting to bring the Games to the south island cities of Christchurch and ski resort Queenstown.
New Zealand’s hopes will be boosted by hosting the Rugby World Cup this autumn but NZ Olympic Committee secretary general Barry Maister believes the Winter Olympics would be a step too far.
"I took a look at the infrastructure [at Salt Lake City 2002] and thought, `this is way beyond us'," Maister said.
"I admire people with passion and vision, and people who want to make things happen, but my initial take is that a Winter Olympics Games for New Zealand is ambitious in the extreme.
"It's on a different scale to anything we do here, and we're a little country.
"I'm trying not to be sceptical here, but I just think, realistically, we're a long way from it."
In 1998, businessman Bruce Ullrich, a former Olympic and Commonwealth Games administrator, embarked on a bid to bring the Games to Christchurch but it was swiftly aborted.
And NZSki chief executive James Coddington insists the Christchurch does not have the infrastructure, facilities or required finances to host a Winter Olympics that would compare to Vancouver 2010.
"It makes perfect sense, if we had the facilities to deliver such an event," he said.
"But just hosting the media alone would tie up most of the Christchurch accommodation, let alone the athletes and support crew.
"You've got a whole host of different events which we just don't currently have the facilities for.”
A bid from New Zealand is looking therefore increasingly unlikely and New Zealand 2022 Winter Olympic Bid have failed to attract the amount of support they had hoped for.
A Facebook campaign, that includes a slick two-minute promotional video, was set up last year with the hope of gathering 10,000 supporters but at present it can boast only 365.
The Winter Olympics has been hosted in the southern hemisphere on just two occasions – both times in Japan in Nagano in 1998 and Sapporo in 1972.
Such is the climate in those cities that the Games were still staged in February as is habitually the case.
Other cities believed to be considering a 2022 bid include Harbin in China, Lillehammer in Norway, Barcelona and Zaragoza in Spain, Toulouse in France and Quebec in Canada.
More than the Games / Eurosport