Reporting From Lausanne, Switzerland – Italy’s Milan-Cortina Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid has been elected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the world’s biggest winter sports event in 2026.
The vote, held during the 134th IOC Session being held at the SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne, Switzerland, put the regional Italian project ahead of its only rival on the ballot, Sweden’s Stockholm Åre, by a 47 to 34 count. One abstained.
For the first time an Olympic Games will be jointly named, and the venues will be spread across mostly-existing facilities in Northern Italy. It is the IOC’s first Olympics to be sited using the ‘New Norm’ reforms introduced last year to encourage sustainability and cost-efficiency while organizing the Games.
It will be Italy’s third Winter Games after hosting in Turin in 2006 and Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956. Rome hosted the Summer Games in 1960.
Milan-Cortina plans to rebuild the sliding track used during the 1956 Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton, and curling will be held in the original Olympic Arena. Opening Ceremony are to be held in Milan’s San Siro Stadium while the Closing Ceremony will be staged in the Verona Arena, an historic amphitheater. Alpine events will be staged in Cortina and Bormio.
Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte said during his presentation to IOC members “these Olympic Games could combine sport, history, culture and innovation.”
“Our bid is worthy of the highest consideration.
“The unbeatable beauty and charm of our alps, we have written unforgettable pages of sport.”
Italian bid Chief Giovanni Malago said last-minute changes to the presentation focusing on passion helped push the bid over the top. At a press conference following the win, he thanked several members of his team.
IOC President Thomas Bach said “I would like to congratulate Milan Cortina for this victory, which for the IOC is a great day.
“We have the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in a traditional winter sport country with experience and passionate fans and athletes.”
Italy previously hosted the Winter Games in Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and and Turin in 2006. Rome hosted the 1960 Summer Games.
Sweden remains the country with the most Olympic Winter Games medals to never to have hosted the event.
Stockholm launched a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics before unfavourable politics led to its withdrawal. The Capital bid for the 2004 Games, landing fourth in a five-city ballot won by Athens. Previous failed Winter Games bids included Ostersund in 2002, 1998 and 1994; Falun in 1992 and 1988; and Gothenburg in 1984. Sweden has placed second four times.
Swedish IOC member Gunilla Lindberg told members not to vote based on sentiment, and the fact that her country hasn’t hosted the Winter Games. She challenged her colleagues in the final sentence of the Stockholm Åre presentation, asking “is the IOC ready for the New Norm or is it just talk?”, referencing the IOC’s reforms on sustainability and cost efficiency.
Stockholm Åre bid Chief Richard Brisius reflected on the loss explaining “obviously I was looking for a different result. Now we have a result and I am proud of what we have done.”
“We were seven coming into the bid and we were in the final, and hopefully we made people proud of us.”
Seven cities had applied to become candidates last year, but both Sion in Switzerland and Calgary in Canada dropped from the race after losing referendums; Graz cancelled its bid due to public opposition; Sapporo in Japan switched its target to 2030 instead and Erzurum was dismissed by the IOC after being told it was not ready.
More updates to this breaking story to come…