Prague takes first step towards Olympic bid

14-03-2007

Prague city councillors have just voted in favour of the city making a bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016 and the city council will now decide on the matter. If, as expected, most of its members vote for the proposal, Prague will become an official candidate for the Olympics.

Marketa ReedovaMarketa Reedova This will mean that the Czech capital will compete with cities like Berlin and Rio de Janeiro for the honour of hosting the games in 2016. However, not everyone is in favour of the idea. Deputy mayor Marketa Reedova is just one of two city councillors who voted against the proposal.

"My main concern is the risk that the costs of the Olympic Games will keep rising. I think that London is actually facing that problem at the moment. It's especially true for small towns like Prague that it will be quite a risky situation if the costs go up. Prague also hasn't got the infrastructure for the games at the moment. One of the conditions for a successful Olymoic Games is that the infrastructure is in place. We haven't got it at the moment and we would have to work on this."

The organisers of the London games in 2012 deny that they have gone over budget. They also say that the billions of money they spend on the games will be of enormous benefit for the city by improving its infrastructure and helping to attract millions of tourists.

Some estimates suggest the Prague Olympic Games might cost around 135 billion Czech crowns or 6.3 billion US dollars. Money well spent says the vice-president of the Czech Olympic Committee, Jiri Zednicek.

"It's very unfortunate that the a priori approach is from the negative side. Everybody talks about the costs. I would see it as an investment into the development and promotion of the city of Prague and the country. I don't think it's too big a project for Prague."

Marketa Reedova admits that she can see the benefits of holding the Olympic Games in Prague, but says that the city should approach the matter cautiously.

"I'm not a priori against the idea of hosting the Olympic Games, but I am a little bit sceptical. I said at the vote yesterday that I would act as a watchdog for the council because this discussion needs someone to take a critical approach. If everyone gets overexcited and thinks only about hosting the games, you start doing things that make the costs shoot up. But if, in the end, we can manage to produce a low-cost Olympic Games then I would say 'Yes, why not.'".

14-03-2007