31 Mar 2009

Olympic host hopefuls outline bids in Queenstown

10:07 pm on 31 March 2009

Four cities vying to host the 2016 Olympic Games have presented plans to delegates from Oceania Olympic Committees meeting in New Zealand.

Representatives from Chicago, Tokyo, Rio de Janeiro and Madrid showcased slick visual presentations on Tuesday of how their cities will develop infrastructure for the Games.

Each city was eying International Olympic Committee members, who are in Queenstown for the two-day Oceania National Olympic Committee General Assembly.

IOC members will vote for their preferred city in Denmark in October. President Jacques Rogge is exempt from the voting process.

A feature of each bid included how to reduce the cost of hosting the Olympics, with many cities suggesting they will use existing stadia and buildings instead of constructing new facilities.

Codes short-listed for inclusion in the 2016 Games are softball, baseball, squash, karate and rugby sevens. They will find out in October if their are to be included.

The rugby sevens delegation received the biggest round of applause for its presentation.

New Zealand former world squash champion, Dame Susan Devoy, who is backing an attempt to have the game included, says it would be a huge boost for the sport.

"The only regret I have in my career is that I was never able to play in a Commonwealth Games or Olympic Games. I just think it would be fantastic for a sport like squash that would really, really grow from having the exposure at the Olympic Games."

IOC not immune from recession, says Rogge

The IOC is in good heart and its coffers full after the 2008 Beijing Games and the Sydney Olympics in 2000, president Jacques Rogge said in Queenstown.

However, Dr Rogge says the recession will be felt at community level where future champions are nurtured.

"Many national federations in most countries have difficulties in finding sponsors. Ticket sales in their events is diminishing. And also in many countries governments have bailed out the banks and have, unfortunately, no money any more for grassroot levels."

Dr Rogge says another big challenge is lifting children's participation rates in sports in the face of competition from electronic media.