What next for Czech port lot after Hamburg’s rejection of Olympics?

Moldauhafen, photo: Gerd Fahrenhorst, CC BY 3.0

Hamburg has decided to pull out of the competition to host the Olympic Games in 2024. The news casts doubt over the future of a rundown port lot in the German city owned by the Czech Republic since the late 1920s. Prague had been hoping to swap it for another site in the city.

Moldauhafen,  photo: Gerd Fahrenhorst,  CC BY 3.0
Hamburg had been one of five cities left in the running to host the Olympics and the Paralympics in nine years’ time.

However, its residents voted in a referendum on Sunday to pull out of the competition. Opponents argued that the money earmarked for the games could be better spent.

The news has implications for the Czech Republic. It owns the Moldauhafen lot in the port in Germany’s second biggest city, a site which has fallen into considerable disrepair.

The plans for the Olympics had envisaged making use of the location and in October this year the mayor of Hamburg had offered Prague an alternative site in exchange for the dilapidated and little-used port lot. The Czech side set up a commission to consider offers.

Dan Ťok,  photo: Filip Jandourek
The authorities in the German city had evidently not expected the populace to reject the Olympics bid.

The development has also come as something of a surprise to the Czech Republic. The country’s minister of transport, Dan Ťok, gave this reaction to Czech Radio.

“We will have to negotiate again with the Hamburg city government about how to proceed… We had quite liked the exchange offered. We had plans to make better use of the site.”

One person who will be closely watching how the situation develops is Lubomír Fojtů of the Czech state agency for administering the country’s waterways. It would be responsible for renovating the existing site or building a new one.

“For us it is important that a decision on the matter be made as quickly as possible, so that we can do our work. Because we have money ready to invest. We are awaiting the decision and this is putting something of a brake on our work.”

The Czech Republic has earmarked up to CZK 150 million to rejuvenate Moldauhafen (which means Vltava Harbour). It was used until 2001 when the Czech operator went bankrupt.

Hamburg,  photo: Dirtsc,  CC BY-SA 3.0
Czechoslovakia acquired a 99-year lease on it – stemming from the post-WWI Treaty of Versailles – in 1929. The Czech Republic now controls the lease, which is due to expire in 2028.

Moldauhafen is one of three such lots that the Czech Republic has rights over in Hamburg. It also acquired the adjacent Saalehafen in the post-WWI settlement but purchased the Peutehafen port lot.