Hamburg builds on cup success for 2016 bid

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The Independent Online

Hamburg is considering a bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games following the success of the football World Cup in Germany.

Hamburg's Mayor, Ole von Beust, said that a "very attractive concept" had been drawn up for a possible bid by the northern port city, Germany's second biggest. He said that Germany should take advantage of admiration abroad for its trouble-free staging of the World Cup, but added that it was up to the national Olympic committee to decide on any bid.

Berlin, whose renovated Olympiastadion hosted Sunday's World Cup final, also signalled renewed interest last month in an Olympic bid. Berlin's mayor has not specified when the city might make a bid, but Von Beust identified it as Hamburg's likely rival. "Berlin has had its World Cup," he said. "Hamburg wants the Olympic Games."

Hamburg was one of the 12 World Cup cities and hosted its last match at the quarter-final stage. It lost out to the eastern city of Leipzig to lead Germany's bid for the 2012 Olympics.

In Italy, Rome lacks the political backing to proceed with a bid for the 2016 Olympics, the city's Mayor, Walter Veltroni, said yesterday. "Rome has all it takes, but I wanted a united country behind its candidacy," Veltroni told a news conference. "Right now, I don't think these conditions are there."

However, he expressed hope that a solution could be found within "a few weeks. If there is a positive solution, the candidacy of Rome is ready," he said. Veltroni said he would meet Italian Olympic Committee officials today.

The International Olympic Committee will send out requests for 2016 bids next spring and the host city will be picked in 2009. Rome, which hosted the 1960 Olympics, lost to Athens in the race for the 2004 games.

The method of selecting athletes will be one of the top agenda items at talks between North and South Korea about fielding a single team for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The president of South Korea's Olympic committee, Kim Jung Kil, said yesterday the selection criteria would be key as the officials struggle to make a symbolic dream become a reality.

Seoul has suggested that Pyongyang hold the talks at the North's scenic mountain resort of Mount Kumgang from 20 to 21 July, but North Korea has yet to reply. Officials from the North and South met last month in Kaesong, just north of the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone that divides the peninsula. They were unable, however, to agree on the details of a joint team. The North is insisting that the team be composed of equal parts South and North Korean athletes while the South demands selection be based on athletes' performances.

Still technically at war after the 1950-53 war ended without a peace treaty, the two Koreas first considered competing as a joint team at the 1964 Tokyo Games, but years of tensions have meant it has remained just an idea. Sports officials from the two sides agreed last November to compete as a single sports team in Beijing and Doha, the venue of December's Asian Games.