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3 cities set for 2018 Winter Olympics presentation

Claudia Bokel was in hot and muggy Acapulco, Mexico helping Munich press its claim for the 2018 Winter Olympics when Germany experienced some seasonal weather in keeping with the occasion.

"The funniest thing is that the first snow was falling," the former Olympic fencer told The Associated Press on Friday. "It was quite a good combination."

Edgar Grospiron of the Annecy, France bid competing against Munich and Pyeongchang, South Korea, for right to host the 2018 games, can claim synchronicity of a different kind. The former freestyle skier won a moguls gold medal for France at the 1992 Winter Games in Albertville, the last time the Olympics were held in his country.

"I could say that is my main motivation," Grospiron said of his wish to get the Olympics back to France. "When you are an athlete, you know how the games can help in your life."

All three cities will have 10-minute presentations to the Olympic Council of Asia on Saturday during the Asian Games.

The pitch at Acapulco during a meeting of the Association of National Olympic Committees three weeks ago was the first of about seven presentations the bid cities will make to various Olympic and international sports groups. A secret vote will be held next July 6 in Durban, South Africa, to decide the 2018 host city.

Officials from the Pyeongchang bid were maintaining a mostly low profile in Guangzhou ahead of Saturday's presentation. Last week, the International Olympic Committee issued a warning to Pyeongchang and reminded the bidders to "fully respect the rules of conduct" after two South Korean companies signed sponsorship deals with international sports federations headed by senior IOC members.

Cho Yang-ho, chief executive of Korean Air and head of the Pyeongchang committee, later promised that the bid group and all related organizations "will strictly respect the IOC Code of Ethics, the Rules of Conduct and all proper implementing provisions."

Pyeongchang, which is bidding for a third time after narrow defeats in the voting for the 2010 and 2014 Olympics, issued a statement this week reaffirming its commitment to hosting an environmentally friendly and sustainable Winter Games and said it will back it up with an environment committee's report.

Munich's bid, which has two-time Olympic gold medal figure skater Katarina Witt as chair of its team, has also had some problems.

Bavarian farmers are unhappy about giving up land to be used during the games, although Munich organizers said in Acapulco that the provincial issue was under control.

Munich is promising a compact games — a so-called "Two-Park" concept with minimal traveling time between two main sites — and pushing Germany's passion for winter sports.

Bokel, who won a team silver medal in fencing at the 2004 Olympics and was epee world champion in 1998, has been a member of the IOC's Athletes Commission since 2008.

"If I didn't feel that our bid was the best for the athletes, I wouldn't be sitting here," the Dutch-born Bokel said. "I think we have a great bid, something to offer everyone and to leave a legacy for winter sports in the region."

Annecy is also promising minimal traveling time between two major clusters — Annecy and nearby Chamonix, which is connected by a motorway and train service.

Grospiron says there would be separate athletes villages in each community, ensuring that 80 percent of athletes were less than 10 minutes from their competition venues.

And he sees another reason for the IOC to award the games to France — the first Winter Olympics were held in Chamonix in 1924.

"I think that would be a nice celebration, a nice anniversary, of nearly 100 years of winter sports at the Olympics," he said.