Reporting from SwissTech Convention Center in Lausanne, Switzerland – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tuesday unanimously voted to overhaul the 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid process in order to save time, money and to provide more assistance to bid cities by guiding them through new reforms.
Highlighting the list of changes from the last Winter Games bid process won by Beijing for 2022, for 2026 interested cities must be approved by the IOC Session in order for it to become a candidate for the Games.
A panel of four IOC Vice Presidents including John Coates proposed extending the invitation stage allowing interested cities and the IOC to open a dialogue and jointly investigate the potential bid before any commitments are made.
The 2026 invitation has already begun with at least three cities participating including Calgary in Canada, Innsbruck in Austria and the only declared city in the race, Sion in Switzerland.
The IOC has committed to providing additional assistance to bids including the provision of workshops, offering attendance at the PyeongChang 2018 observer’s program and educating bids on key fundamentals including legacy, engagement and masterplans.
The cities would then need to provide the IOC with undertakings and guarantees in advance of the IOC Session vetting should they be approved as candidates.
The IOC President will then appoint the 2026 Evaluation Commission, and those members will conduct bid city visits, as they have in the past, and then provide the evaluation report ahead of a technical briefing to IOC Members and other stakeholders.
The election of the host city, following presentations, would occur during the 2019 IOC Session, likely to be hosted in Milan, Italy.
The reformed 2026 process comes on the heels of a disastrous bid for the previous Winter Games IOC that were awarded to Beijing after four of six applicants abandoned the race, mostly due to risks and cost concerns.
Then three of five cities quit the 2024 Summer Games race forcing the IOC Tuesday to give both remaining cities, Los Angeles and Paris, the opportunity to host next decade.
The IOC hinted at changes to come last month when the organization reacted to a proposed budget by the Calgary Bid Exploratory Committee of about (CAD) $4.6 billion.
A statement by IOC media said “In addition, a working group composed of winter sports specialists and International Federation experts are looking into ways of reducing the operational budget of the Olympic Winter Games.”
“These efforts could not be taken into consideration by the Calgary team in their deliberations, but they will certainly result in a positive impact on Calgary’s budget. We look forward to continuing to work with the Committee as it refines its project.”
Coates said Tuesday that the Federations would be heavily involved in the process to help advise the bids and to work strategically to keep costs low by using existing venues outside of the city footprint, and possibly optimize better venue use with strategic scheduling.
Further details on the process are to be released.