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St. Moritz, Davos Referendum On 2022 Winter Olympics

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Voters in the Swiss canton of Graubuenden, where St. Moritz and Davos are located, will be voting in a referendum Sunday on whether to support a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympic Games.

Joerg Schild, President of the Swiss Olympic Committee, told a news conference Monday, "we want to bring the Winter Olympics back to the snow, it would be great if you could sit in the hotel and watch it snowing outside".

Graubuenden 2022 Organizing Committee member Gian Gill added, "I was in Sochi recently and it was 18 celsius in winter".

Schild said the results of the referendum "will be very close".

Bid organizers say that the estimated investments of 4.3 billion Swiss francs ($4.62 billion U.S.) will be repaid by the boost in tourism which will result from staging the event. Of this, 1.5 billion would be on transport on sporting infrastructure, and 2.64 billion would be on running the Games.

They say that the bid is sustainable and environmentally friendly and that much of the necessary infrastructure already exists.

But opponents of the bid are concerned about the environmental impact of new buildings, ski lifts and other infrastructure on the Alpine environment, and that the initial budget will spiral out of control, as invariably happens with major sporting events.

Sigi Asprion, head of the St. Moritz town council, told reporters, "this is an enormous chance to give tourism a big boost in the region. If we can show ourselves as a place for winter holidays, the whole of Switzerland will benefit".

Tarzisius Caviezel, head of the bid, reportedly rejected any suggestion it would be environmentally destructive. He told Reuters, "this is an unfounded criticism because, from the start, we have given great importance to this ecological aspect and we have ensured that not one piece of wood will have to be pulled up. The construction of temporary structures in the village area will be done with great care, so no environmental damage will be caused".

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