Krakow Votes ‘No’ In Winter Olympic Bid
POLAND – The voter turnout was light in Kraków but the majority recorded a 70% ‘no’ vote in a special referendum to bid as host for the 2022 Winter Olympics. The referendum saw a 34 percent voter turnout – just exceeding the 30 percent required for the vote to be legally binding on the city council.
In photo on right: Mayor Jacek Majchrowski of Kraków
The high costs of hosting and building venues were some of the reasons given during exit polls. Also of great concern was the lack of appropriate highway infrastructure to handle the enormous traffic loads to the Zakopane region.
Locals did vote ‘yes’ to the three other questions posed in the referendum. There was a 55% response in favor of building a metro system in Kraków. A strong 70% supported an increase in public security camera monitoring and an overwhelming 85% agreed that Kraków should build more cycle paths.
Kraków’s mayor, Jacek Majchrowski, was a strong supporter of the Olympics bid, but confirmed that the city must now withdraw. Majchrowski said, “Kraków is closing its efforts to be the host of the 2022 Winter Games due to the low support for the idea among the residents. … I regret that the referendum has put a definite end to … the project that I considered to be very important for the development of the whole region.” Majchrowski had blamed the initial Bid Committee led by former Polish Olympic snowboarder-turned-politician Jagna Marczułajtis-Walczak for turning people against the campaign following corruption allegations. She later resigned over allegations that her husband tried to bribe journalists into writing favorable stories regarding the Olympic bid.
The activist group “Kraków Przeciwko Igrzyskom” (“Kraków Against Games”) led the initiative against the referendum and used social media to inform voters.
Some of the events had been scheduled to take place on the Slovakian side of the Tatra Mountains in Jasná. In the international community, Krakow was the favored choice. There are just four remaining cities in the running for the 2022 games: Oslo, Norway; Lwów, Ukraine; Almaty, Kazakhstan; and Beijing, China.
Last December, Stockholm withdrew because of financial concerns. Amongst analysts, most agree that hosting the Olympics does not have an upside from a cost-benefit standpoint. In 2000 Kraków was chosen by the European Union as the European Capital of Culture.
By Raymond Rolak