The Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) Thursday announced that it will conduct a feasibility study to investigate the possibility of bringing the Olympic Winter Games back to Innsbruck in 2026.
AOC President Karl Stoss said at a ceremony in Innsbruck “International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has clearly signaled to us in several discussions that applications from traditional winter sports strongholds that have decades of experience in the hosting of major events are high on the preference list.”
The study, costing 350,000 euro to be jointly financed by the AOC, the City of Innsbruck and the Austrian government, will look into the viability of hosting the Games for the first time since 1976. That year Innsbruck stepped in to stage the Games on short notice after Denver citizens voted in a referendum to reject the use of tax dollars to fund the Games already awarded to the U.S. city. Innsbruck had previously staged the Games in 1964 and was able to leverage existing facilities to quickly ramp up.
Innsbruck hosted the inaugural edition of the Youth Olympic Winter Games in 2012.
Austria has recently bid several times unsuccessfully for the opportunity to welcome back the Games – for the 2010 and 2014 Games in Salzburg, the 2006 Games in Klagenfurt and the 2002 Games in Graz.
Stoss said “the IOC wants affordable, well-organized Games that are supported by the population.”
“Innsbruck is ready for a sustainable, likeable Games, as proven at the Youth Games in 2012.”
AOC Secretary Peter Mennel said “a feasibility study is a first, indispensable step towards an intense discussion about an application.”
“The aim is to find answers to the most important organizational issues. Only then it makes sense to go to the conceptual design and planning.
“Only someone who does his homework in this initial phase, can succeed internationally,” he added.
Innsbruck Tourism Councillor Franz X. Gruber said “the Olympic Agenda 2020 suits Tyrol and Innsbruck.”
“The Games must be performed back to basics, transparent, accountable and cost-effective. This is the basis for the feasibility study and this will show whether it makes sense for us, to again tackle the most famous event in the world. Our country and our city are one of the few regions in the world that can offer the conditions to organize games in this new spirit.”
The IOC is eager to recruit capable Olympic Winter Games candidates after all six interested European cities dropped out of the 2022 Winter Games race due to various political and economic reasons, including three failed referendums. Instead it was Beijing that defeated its only opponent Almaty to host the Olympics in a region where sufficient snowfall for the Games is unlikely and winter sport expertise is limited.
With the 2018 Games to be staged in PyeongChang, South Korea – two straight Winter Olympics in Asia will open the window wide for a return to Europe in 2026. Serious interest in bidding for the 2026 Games has already been expressed by Stockholm, Sweden and four regions in Switzerland – as well as Calgary, Canada and 2022 bid runner-up Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Applications to bid for the Games will be accepted by the IOC late in 2017 and the host city will be elected at an IOC all-members session in 2019.