With the final bid application deadline looming, delegations from cities that have expressed interest in hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games will travel to PyeongChang for the Winter Games that are set to open in the South Korean ski village next week.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) lists Calgary in Canada, Sapporo in Japan, Sion in Switzerland and Stockholm in Sweden as the four cities actively involved “so far” in the bid Dialogue Stage. Those cities have been given the opportunity to participate in the PyeongChang 2018 Observer Program, allowing them to learn more about the organization of the Winter Games and to promote the bid with a small display in their national houses.
Sion is the only city that has so far confirmed that it will be at the starting line when the deadline arrives.
Leading the official Sion delegation will be bid president Jürg Stahl and Valais sports minister Frédéric Favre, who is also the bid vice-president. Plans are being finalized to have the Sion’s Mayor Philippe Varone, or his Vice-Mayor, attend the Games where the bid will set up a promotional display at the House of Switzerland at Nations Village situated in PyeongChang’s Yong Pyong Ski Resort.
Stockholm will also send a delegation to PyeongChang, a Swedish Olympic Committee spokesperson told GamesBids.com. Led by bid CEO Richard Brisius, Stockholm representatives will set up a bid display in Sweden Arena at Nations Village.
But time is running out for Stockholm as the bid has been continually rebuffed by government officials who have so far denied critical financial endorsements for the Olympic plans.
Calgary too, is waiting for positive news from potential Provincial and Federal backers before the 1988 host city can finalize a bid for 2026. The Canadian city is optimistic, however, that support will be solidified later this month and ahead of the deadline.
Calgary city council has approved a budget that will allow a delegation to travel to PyeongChang for the IOC’s Observer Program, but officials will stop short at promoting the bid at the Gangneung-based Canada Olympic House.
Sapporo is also eligible to send a delegation and promote the bid in Japan’s Olympic House, but with the next Games to be held in Tokyo in 2020 – the promotional focus will likely remain on the Capital’s big event instead. Additionally, Sapporo seems to be the most unlikely contender in the race. Including Tokyo’s Summer Games, Sapporo 2026 would represent the fourth Games to be held in East Asia within eight years – PyeongChang next week and Beijing’s Winter Games in 2022.
Other interested cities will be excluded from PyeongChang and will have until March 31 to sign up with the IOC before the door slams shut for 2026.
In January a bid from Graz emerged as a possible Austrian replacement for Innsbruck after that city had its bid defeated in a referendum last year. But the Austrian Olympic Committee has yet to endorse the bid so any unofficial delegation will have to wait on the sideline.
And though three American cities – including Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno – are clamoring for a chance to enter the race, the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) has yet to determine whether it will choose a city to move forward. With Los Angeles set to host the Summer Games in 2028, it’s problematic for the USOC to enter an “interested city” ahead of the deadline.
GamesBids.com understands, however, that representatives from each U.S. city will be traveling to the Games under various other Olympic capacities.
The PyeongChang Games open February 9 and run until February 25.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from PyeongChang beginning next week. Follow us @gamesbids on Twitter or on Facebook for updates.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.