Witt cites German sponsors as key to Munich bid

The financial clout of German sponsors should be a key factor in favor of Munich's bid for the 2018 Winter Olympics, Katarina Witt said Tuesday.

Witt, the two-time figure skating gold medalist who chairs the Munich bid, said companies including BMW and Audi pay a total of $3.7 billion a year in sports sponsorship in Germany.

Half of the sponsorship revenues of the seven Olympic international winter sports federations comes from German companies, she said.

"This shows how much German companies are behind winter sports," Witt said at a media briefing during the SportAccord convention.

Germany's leading role in sports sponsorship is expected to figure prominently in Munich's official presentation to international sports leaders on Thursday. Witt said Ian Robertson, BMW's head of sales and marketing, will be part of the presentation focusing on the "business side."

Munich is competing against Pyeongchang, South Korea, and Annecy, France. Pyeongchang is widely considered the front-runner.

All three cities are using the London convention to push their case, a month before they make formal presentations to the IOC in Lausanne, Switzerland, on May 18-19. The IOC will select the host city by secret ballot on July 6 in Durban, South Africa.

Witt downplayed the May 8 referendum on the bid in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the mountain resort that would host the Olympic skiing events.

"We're quite positive of the outcome," Witt said.

She declined to say how big a victory she hopes for or expects.

"It's about a majority," she said.

Some Bavarian landowners have objected to giving up their land for the Olympics, but one key opponent agreed to let his land be used for this year's Alpine skiing world championships.

"We are very positive this will also happen for the Olympics," Witt said. "It's one small piece of land in the field of play."

Witt acknowledged that IOC members are following the issue closely.

"Of course they ask about it," she said. "We're positive. We're honest about it. We're open about it. We have nothing to hide. It's part of our culture. It's a democracy. People are allowed to express their opinions. There will always be a few people who are against a chance or against a big event."