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Modest, inner-city Games concept for Berlin, Hamburg

By Karolos Grohmann

BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany's Berlin and Hamburg, eager to launch a summer Olympics candidacy, have proposed modest, inner-city concepts for the Olympics with the country to decide in the coming months if and which city will bid for the 2024 Games.

The two cities are slugging it out for the national nod to bid, with Germany's Olympic sports confederation (DOSB) to decide on the better candidacy in the coming months.

"We are happy to have two very strong German cities with high international recognition wanting to host the Olympic Games," DOSB chief Alfons Hoermann said after receiving completed questionnaires from both cities on Monday.

"At the end of this discussion process we have to decide whether we will bid with Berlin or Hamburg and for which Games we will be bidding.

A decision is unlikely to come before the end of the year.

Berlin is proposing to use land at the still operational Tegel airport, a short 15-minute drive northwest of the city centre as well as the now defunct and centrally located Tempelhof airport for a low-scale Games that will make use of a host of existing venues.

The German capital highlighted its multi-cultural population and its reputation as a city with a high quality of life, attracting some 11 million tourists annually and tens of thousands of new residents per year.

"The Games are a sports fest for Berlin and the whole world. Not in an isolated Olympic quarter but in the very heart of the city," Berlin candidacy officials wrote in the questionnaire.

The Olympic stadium from the 1936 Games will again serve as the main focus of the world's biggest and most expensive multi-sport event.

Tegel will shut down after the opening of Berlin's new international airport, which has seen years of embarrassing delays in its completion, with still no official date set for its much-awaited opening.

Hamburg in turn presented a compact concept, proposing to stage much of the Games in the Kleiner Grasbrook area which is technically an island but only a 10-minute walk from the city centre.

Athletes village construction would also help the city's housing shortage as Germany's largest port city grows. The proposed Olympic stadium, that needs to be built, will also be in the same area and then downsized to 20,000 seats for future use.

Bidding for the 2024 Games starts in 2015 with a decision to be made in 2017.

No city has officially announced a bid yet but several, including Los Angeles and Boston from the United States as well as Paris, Istanbul, Qatar's Doha and Durban in South Africa, are among potential candidates.

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro and the 2020 summer Games in Tokyo. Berlin last hosted the Olympics in Nazi-ruled Germany in 1936.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; editing by Justin Palmer)

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