Prague cautiously eyes 2020 Olympic bid

All eyes were on Singapore on Wednesday for the announcement of who will host the 2012 Olympic Games. The winner - London - was a choice which surprised many, but the decision has also reinvigorated the debate over whether the Czech capital Prague stands a chance of hosting the world's greatest sporting event.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair, photo: CTKBritish Prime Minister Tony Blair, photo: CTK Prague has bid for the Games before, most recently in the 1970s. But the Soviet Union soon put paid to Prague's Olympic ambitions, and after pressure from Moscow the bid was withdrawn.

Many in the Czech Olympic Committee are in favour of bidding for the 2016 Olympics, even though the chances of Prague winning are close to zero - after London in 2012, the possibility of Europe hosting two Olympics in a row can almost be ruled out. That obviously raises question of why Prague is bothering to bid for 2016 in the first place. Vladimir Dostal is the Secretary General of the Czech Olympic Committee.

"Prague must prepare for 2016. It's better to prepare earlier and then to repeat our bid. Anyway the competition will be very hard because after yesterday's decision, four very strong cities will remain in competition. I'm not sure all of them will repeat their bid, but I think some of them will and Prague will be in a very hard and difficult position."

So the Czech Olympic Committee sees 2016 as a sort of dry run for 2020 or 2024. Prague will have some very tough competition in Europe - Paris, Madrid, Moscow, possibly Berlin. But even very idea of hosting Games is not to everyone's liking, with some saying Prague is just too small to host the Olympics and the whole enterprise will be far too expensive. So do the people of Prague actually want the Games? Vladimir Dostal remains optimistic they will support a bid to host the Games.

"As we know from history, from Athens last year for example, the support gradually increases. It's a normal process that at the beginning of the bidding process people don't agree too much, and the support is very low. But after all when they see the building of infrastructure etc and the fact that it brings many advantages to the city, their support increases."

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