The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has delayed the naming of its 2026 Winter Olympic bid city until as late as September, the organization announced at a meeting in Rome Tuesday.
Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Turin are among potential lead cities that were named when CONI submitted a letter of interest to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in March.
CONI President Giovanni Malagò said “It is just a matter of reflection, and the IOC is also informed, in order to be able to make an assessment, I do not say unanimous but as broad as possible.”
But CONI confirmed for the first time that it will officially back the project.
A commission will be created to examine the feasibility studies that were submitted by the interested cities, and determine the best route forward. If the review is completed in time for an August 1 meeting, the announcement could be made early – otherwise the nominated city will be revealed at a September 10 meeting of the General Assembly.
CONI has been rumoured to prefer Milan as lead city, and sharing the mountain venues with Turin – host of the 2006 Games.
But observers have said that Turin is not willing to be share the potential spotlight. The Turin edition of La Republica reported that CONI will use the additional time to try to unify the two bids, and create the more sustainable and legacy-driven concept that Italy’s federal government is looking for.
Italy’s government already declared support for whatever bid is chosen by CONI, and will likely rubber-stamp the named city. But in a statement last week, politicians urged the future bid committee to devise a low cost Games plan with a valuable legacy.
Cortina is considered an outsider in the domestic race. All three cities face some form of local opposition.
Malagò said “in the commission there will be Olympic and Paralympic athletes, and characters related to the world of sport.”
“The possibility of involving people outside the world of sport was also encouraged, but I have reserved to talk about it in the end because it is a good idea but I do not want anyone to accuse us of interfering.”
Malagò wouldn’t specify the decision deadline, leaving a wide window open and indicating “between the end of July and the beginning of September, because we want to make an evaluation of an objective nature. The dossiers are very complex.”
Turin hosted the Games in 2006 and Cortina d’Ampezzo was the site in 1956 – and both offer existing winter sports venues. Milan has never hosted an Olympic Games, but has other valuable venues and infrastructure.
Including the Italian bid, five cities remain interested and are eligible to be added to an IOC shortlist in October.
Calgary in Canada will face a November plebiscite while Stockholm in Sweden continues to lobby for elusive government support. Sapporo could switch its target to 2030 leaving Erzurum in Turkey as the only city with a clear path to the September 2019 host city election.
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.