Italy Forwards Joint Milan-Turin Bid For 2026 Olympic Winter Games

Italian Olympic officials Thursday informed the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in a letter that a joint Milan-Turin project is intending to bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Milan selected to host IOC Session in 2019

The letter-of-interest has been sent ahead of the IOC’s March 31 deadline, ensuring that the Italian project remains eligible when invitations are offered to qualified bids in October.  The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) made clear in a statement, however, that the candidacy is contingent on the support of the government which is currently being formed following recent elections.

“Due to the need to comply with the formal due date specified by the IOC,” the statement explained, “and following numerous meetings and communications with the heads of the International Olympic Committee, CONI expressed this intention in a letter, declaring the candidatures of the City of Milan/Turin.”

CONI completed a feasibility study in January this year for a project, it says, that will benefit all of Italy and can leverage cost savings offered by the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms.  In 2016 a bid by Rome for the 2024 Games was dismantled after the newly elected populist Mayor refused to support it, citing costs and risks associated with the plan.  Similarly, Rome’s bid for the 2020 edition was abandoned when it was unable to secure the support of Italy’s Prime Minister.

The announcement would presumably put a last-minute bid from Cortina d’Ampezzo on ice.  Last week, the Mayor of the Italian city that played host to the Games in 1956 announced that it intended to launch a bid – but efforts by the Veneto Region are too late in the process.

Milan and Turin have been discussing separate bids for several months, and while there has been recent public resistance in the latter city that hosted the Games in 2006 – Turin’s Mayor created a bid committee on Tuesday.

But CONI says it is flexible on the choice of lead city between the two named candidates.

“It will be the IOC alone to make the decision regarding which City will be invited to be the official candidate for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games [in October],” the CONI statement said.

Whatever that choice might be, the project is certain to include several of the available venues that were used for the Turin 2006 Games including the Cesana sliding track, the Pragelato ski jump and the nearby Alpine skiing facilities.  Milan would be suitable for ice events and ceremonies.

The two cities are almost 150 kilometers apart but are connected by modern rail and highway links making a joint plan feasible and within new IOC guidelines promoting sustainability and venue use.

CONI President Giovanni Malagò (Rome 2024)

CONI President Giovanni Malagò (Rome 2024)

CONI hasn’t limited its plans to just those two cities, however, explaining that continued dialogue with the IOC and other stakeholders will leave open the possibility “of expanding potential solutions for the different Olympic competitions to other areas” as a means of providing the “best solution for the needs of the country.”

With Italy interested in entering the race, the IOC will be considering the possibility of finding a new site for its all-members Session in September 2019 where the 2026 host city is due to be elected.  Milan was chosen to host the meeting last September but would be disqualified if an Italian city were a 2026 candidate.

Calgary in Canada, Graz and Schladming in Austria, Sapporo in Japan, Sion in Switzerland and Stockholm in Sweden have already expressed their interest ahead of the month-end deadline.  Erzurum in Turkey is also submit a letter to the IOC.

About Robert Livingstone

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.