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Olympics

Hamburg residents vote on 2024 Olympic bid

Hamburg, Germany.
Hamburg, Germany. Karsten Planz/Flickr

Hamburg residents are voting this Sunday in a crunch referendum on whether the northern German city should push ahead with its bid to host the 2024 Olympics.

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The port city is in the race against rivals Budapest, Paris, Los Angeles and Rome to stage the Summer Games, with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) due to announce their decision in September 2017. But it must first secure the blessing of its residents and those in neighbouring Kiel, where the sailing events would be held.

Prominent names in Germany's football world, including Mario Goetze, who scored Germany's winning goal in the 2014 World Cup final, and Joachim Loew, who coached the team to their Brazil triumph, have come out ahead of the vote to voice their backing.

Urging Hamburg residents to back the bid, Germany's Olympic sports chief Alfons Hoermann warned that a "no" vote could hurt the future of sports in the country.Securing the population's backing would be "a decisive boost for German sports - in every way", he said, not to mention the additional spur if Hamburg eventually wins the right to host the Games.

Hoermann warned that opposing the bid would end up making it "much more difficult to get necessary support" for less visible sports in football-mad Germany in future.

A study recently found a that only 56 per cent of Hamburg residents wanted their port city to host the games -- down from 63 per cent in September.

The German Olympic Sports Confederation (DSOB) opted for Hamburg over the capital Berlin and wants to avoid a repeat of the experience in southern Germany, when the public in November 2013 vetoed Munich's plans for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

But in order for the Hamburg bid to continue, a majority yes-vote is required - as well as the support of at least 260,000 people, or 20 per cent of the city-state's population. Nearly 500,000 have already sent in postal votes.

Critics are concerned by the staggering costs of hosting the Games - projected at 11.2 billion euros - as well as the sustainability of the project.

A counter campaign, NOlympics Hamburg, has labelled the Summer Games "a money-burning machine", which "speeds up gentrification" and is "not sustainable".

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