Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte will reportedly attend Monday’s International Olympic Committee (IOC) vote to elect a host city for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
According to Reuters, an Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) source has revealed that Conte will travel to Lausanne, Switzerland Monday to support a joint Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo bid against its only remaining rival from Sweden – Stockholm Åre.
“We have informed the IOC today that Prime Minister Conte will arrive (in Lausanne) on Monday,” the source revealed.
Conte’s presence could provide a huge boost for Italy’s bid, showing that the Prime Minister is personally vested in the major project at a time when the IOC needs to successfully deliver a Games on budget.
The Prime Minister assured his government’s support of an Olympic Games when he signed a guarantee letter and delivered it to the IOC on April 5 following an IOC Evaluation Commission site visit. The letter had been due in January, but both the Italian and Swedish governments were not ready to deliver, and the IOC granted an extension.
There is strong support for the bid across Italy, according to a recent IOC poll that reveals 83 percent are behind the bid.
The Milan Cortina bid will also send 16 prominent Italian Olympians, Paralympians and athletes to Lausanne to help campaign for Italy’s third Winter Games following Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and Turin in 2006. Other political leaders and dignitaries are also expected.
Sweden is also planning to send a prominent team in support of Stockholm Åre including at least 11 athletes, Stockholm Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr and other politicians. It has not yet been confirmed if Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfvén plans to attend.
Political leaders and heads-of-state commonly attend Olympic bid elections, with varying levels of success. But with new IOC bid reforms designed in part to reduce the costs of bidding, the election process for 2026 has been toned down, and delegations reduced in size. To some, Conte’s presence is unexpected.
British Prime Minister Tony Blair was credited for London’s narrow victory over Paris to host the 2012 Games when he conducted last-minute lobbying in Singapore hours ahead of the final vote. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made a rare speech in English to IOC delegates ahead of a vote in Guatemala boosting a bid by Sochi to host the 2014 Winter Games.
But just months after being elected, U.S. President Barack Obama led the delegation for a Chicago 2016 Olympic bid only to learn just hours after leaving the vote in Copenhagen that his candidate placed last out of four cities, losing the bid.
Around 90 eligible IOC members are expected to cast ballots Monday to elect the 2026 host.