By Duncan Mackay
British Sports Internet Writer of the Year
May 24 - Bayern Munich may have been beaten by Inter Milan in the UEFA Champions League Final on Saturday (May 22) but the 21,000 fans who travelled to Madrid for the match helped the city's bid to host the 2018 Olympics and Paralympics, officials in Germany have claimed.
That, and the hugely successful World Ice Hockey Championships in Cologne, reinforced Germany’s passion for sport and its expertise in organising world class sporting events, Munich 2018 chief executive Willy Bogner said.
German and Bavarian sports fans reinforced their reputation as being amongst the world’s most passionate yesterday, helping to propel Germany's ice hockey team and Bayern Munich to the brink of unexpected glory, he said.
The German ice hockey team narrowly lost to Russia in the semi-finals with over 173,000 fervent German fans having travelled to support their team throughout the competition.
Bayern Munich, already this season’s German League and Cup winners, lost to Inter in the last match of a Champions League campaign which has seen more than 380,000 fans watching their home matches in the competition at the Allianz Arena.
Besides the thousands of German supporters who travelled to Madrid for the Final, a further 71,000 fans packed the Allianz Arena in Munich to watch the final, joining hundreds of thousands of fans at other live sites across Bavaria and Germany.
Bogner, said: "Massive crowds gathered to watch the hockey and football at various live sites, and it was reminiscent of scenes at the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany and indicates that the Munich 2018 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games would become a huge international celebration of sport and humanity across Germany."
The World Ice Hockey Championships in Germany have seen record attendances, supporting claims that a Munich 2018 Games would draw the biggest and most passionate crowds in Winter Games’ history, Bogner claimed.
The opener in Gelsenkirchen attracted a world record 77,803 spectators and a total of more than 500,000 fans attended the tournament won by the Czech Republic.
Bogner said: "The IIHF (International Ice Hockey Federation) World Championships represent everything that is good in German sport at the moment: elite sporting performance, organisation on a world-class level and the most passionate and friendly sports fans in the world.
"The Munich 2018 Bid Committee congratulates the IIHF, the organising committee and the German Hockey Federation for this outstanding performance.
"It proves that a major sports event on home soil inspires and stimulates our athletes and fans alike."
The World Championships have also been a global success with more than 200 television stations beaming the matches to over 700 million viewers around the world.
Bogner was particularly pleased that it was not just Germany who benefited from overwhelming support: all teams have been fairly supported in the true Olympic spirit:
He said: "With our bid concept of the friendly Games, we hope to emulate spectacles like the Slovakia versus Russia match, which attracted the biggest crowd ever for a game not featuring the host nation.
"German ice hockey utilised the World Championships in a perfect way to present their sport and to generate enthusiasm - that´s what we aim to build on for 2018."
Bayern Munich may have lost in Madrid, but they were still greeted today by around 100,000 fans as they paraded their domestic league and cup trophies along Leopoldstrasse and at the Marienplatz.
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