Cortina d’Ampezzo Emerges As New Italian Contender For 2026 Olympic Winter Games Bid

Just days before Saturday’s (March 31) deadline to submit letters-of-interest to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Cortina d’Ampezzo has raised its hand among two other Italian prospects to vie for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

Cortina d'Ampezzo Ice Olympic Stadium built for the 1956 Olympic Winter Games and later restored with an added roof.

Cortina d’Ampezzo Ice Olympic Stadium built for the 1956 Olympic Winter Games and later restored with an added roof.

In a press release late last week Mayor Gianpietro Ghedina said his town “expresses its interest in the candidature to host the Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games of 2026, with the forecast of a possible involvement of the entire Dolomite territory.”

Still in its early stages, the bid will still need to secure support from outlying regions that would need to participate in the project – and required a nomination domestically from among Turin and Milan – two other cities actively campaigning for the Italian Olympic Committee’s (CONI) endorsement to the IOC.  CONI is expected to forward a letter before the deadline, but will need to narrow to a single city shortly thereafter.  CONI President Giovanni Malagò said he will be able to move forward once the newly elected Italian government organizes.

Cortina d’Ampezzo was chosen to host the 1944 Olympic Winter Games that were subsequently canceled due to World War II.  The town later bid for the 1952 edition but was defeated by Oslo, Norway and finally went on to host the Games in 1956.

The town also bid to host the 1988 and 1992 Games but after both attempts failed, Italy chose Aosta and Tarvisio for 1998 and 2002 before Turin was eventually elected to host in 2006.

Milan has never hosted an Olympic Games.

Cortina d’Ampezzo will propose a regional concept that the Mayor says will satisfy new IOC requirements.  He said “reuse and development would allow to give life to an event in a totally ‘sustainable’ way, both from an economic point of view and from an environmental point of view, in compliance to the recommendations on sustainability expressed in [IOC] Olympic Agenda 2020.”

He added “the Olympic Games are a unique opportunity for the international enhancement of the territory and the host country, representing at the same time the leverage of a new season of growth and development.”

“The City of Cortina d’Ampezzo has always recognized and adopts the fundamental principles and values ​​shared by the International Olympic Committee, with particular reference to the principles encoded in the Olympic Charter, recognizing the Olympics not only a sporting value, but also tourism and economic value.”

The bid from Turin is contentious, with public opposition organizing to fight plans in recent days, citing cost concerns.  Milan’s bid was first announced at the IOC’s Session in Lima last September when Milan’s Mayor Giussepe Sala proposed the project.  He had attended the meeting because Milan had been elected to host the 2019 Session, where the 2026 bid vote is set to be taken.

According to IOC rules, should an Italian city be chosen as a candidate to bid when the IOC invites cities in October, the Session will have to be moved to a different country.

Just months ago a bid from Italy seemed unlikely after Rome was forced to drop its campaign for the 2024 Summer Games in 2016 after a new populist party Mayor was elected.  Virginia Raggi opposed the project due to the costs and risks, but recent IOC changes to the bid process that could ease demands have encouraged the party leadership to soften its stance against bidding.

The IOC has already received letters-of-interest from Calgary, Graz in Austria, Sapporo, Stockholm and Sion.  Other interest has been expressed from Erzurum in Turkey and Lillehammer in Norway is deciding between 2026 and 2030.  The United States is committed to a 2030 bid but may participate in the 2026 discussions to lay the groundwork for the future bid.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil