Erzurum’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid has officially received backing from Turkey’s President and will now enter the international race as a candidate to host the event.
Turkey has never bid for the Winter Olympics, but President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month visited the Erzurum region and vowed to secure a Games for the city.
“We will do our best to bring the Olympics to Erzurum,” the President then said.
Now Turkish Olympic officials have reportedly confirmed the nomination.
Erzurum, located in the north-eastern mountainous region of Turkey, hosted the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF) last year, and previously the 2011 Winter Universiade. Along with nearby Erzican and Kars – existing Winter sports infrastructure is available including a ski jump facility.
The region’s close proximity to Syria, however, may pose some security and stability issues.
Mustafa Ilıcalı, an Erzurum official from Erdogan’s ruling AK Party reported the news on Twitter, he said “I would like to extend my gratitude to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and my Government for the support of Erzurum for the official candidacy application for the 2026 Winter Olympics.”
The announcement comes just hours ahead of a Saturday International Olympic Committee (IOC) deadline for interested National Olympic Committees (NOC) to declare interest in bidding for the 2026 edition of the Games.
Already interest has been declared internationally by Calgary in Canada, Graz and Schladming in Austria, Sapporo in Japan, Sion in Switzerland, Stockholm in Sweden and a joint Milan-Turin project in Italy. On Thursday officials in Lillehammer confirmed Norway would not enter the race for 2026 despite its very successful PyeongChang 2018 Games where the nation led the medal table.
Adding Erzurum would bring the total number of bidders to seven, but the list could grow if other NOC’s submit letters by Saturday evening. The IOC will confirm the final list of interested cities on April 3.
For the 2022 Olympic Winter Games six cites were entered into the race, but eventually four dropped out leaving only Beijing to defeat Almaty in Kazakhstan in an IOC vote.
Turkey has never hosted an Olympic Games, however Istanbul applied to host the Summer Games five times – in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2020 – coming closest when it made the final ballot against Tokyo for 2020.
The IOC will now continue its dialogue phase with Erzurum and the other cities and will then invite a short-list of candidates to continue the process at a meeting in October in Buenos Aires. Bid books are due in January and the IOC will elect the winning city September 2019.