Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala is confident that his newly proposed joint 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid with Cortina will move forward successfully, but other government officials are already looking at other options.
Sala told ANSA Thursday that a presentation to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne Wednesday to propose the Milan-Cortina concept went “well” and the two representing regions, Lombardy and Veneto, will move forward with plans. The proposal must be solidified when the IOC narrows the applicants to a shortlist on October 8 in Buenos Aires.
“The bid is looked upon positively and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) will have to hold an executive meeting in the next few days,” Sala said.
“There is no time to waste. The next key appointment is at the start of October in Buenos Aires and we have to be convincing on the project, the guarantees and the support of the government, which is needed, even if not by financial funding.”
The government canceled support for the originally proposed three-city concept when Turin, Milan and Cortina couldn’t agree to terms which dictated that the Italian government would lead a project with the three cities on equal footing. Sala demanded that his city, with a stronger brand internationally, should be named as the lead, but Turin’s Mayor refused to play a supporting role.
When the project fell apart only hours before the critical presentation to the IOC, Regional leaders representing Milan and Cortina put forward their plan ‘b’.
Funds expected from the Italian government were estimated at €380 million (USD $446 million), but the two regions believe they can bear the costs themselves.
“I really believe that our regions can offer these kind of guarantees,” Lombardy Region president Attilio Fontana said.
“We must consider that from here at the beginning of the event there is enough time that allows to plan both the intervention of the two Regions and finding private funds.
“The Milan Expo had support from private sponsors and the Olympic Games, one of the most important sports events ever, can follow the same path. There is also funding from the IOC.”
Though CONI seems comfortable moving forward with the two-city bid, the possibility of including Turin hasn’t been abandoned.
Giancarlo Giorgetti, the government undersecretary responsible for sport said Friday, according to RAI “I would be the happiest man in the world if I could gather the three cities around the same table to resume the Olympic bid.”
“But this can happen – he warns – only if Turin, Milan and Cortina accept the draft protocol sent last week on their unified candidacy. Every other road that wants the support of the government is not viable.”
CONI President Giovanni Malagò said “I am going to do my best to try and get back my three-city candidacy, which would be good for everyone.”
Meanwhile Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino shot back with a proposal of her city bidding alone explaining “given the obvious difficulties and obstacles encountered in launching the candidacy for three, I ask that the Government clearly expresses itself on the unitary and compact candidacy of Turin and its mountains, only the truly sustainable Turin 2026 would be the natural candidacy for the country.”
The IOC confirmed to GamesBids.com Friday that the planned Session in Milan next September where the 2026 host city was to be elected will need to be moved now that Milan is in the race.
A spokesperson said “for reasons of fairness if Italy is appointed as a candidate for the Olympic Winter Games 2026 in Buenos Aires, then the final vote will not happen in Milan.”
Last week Sapporo, Japan dropped its bid so the city can instead focus on recovery efforts following an August 6 earthquake in the region that claimed 41 lives. Calgary faces a daunting referendum on November 13 and Stockholm is struggling to secure elusive government support for its plans.
Erzurum in Turkey, an outsider that could face economic and security risks, rounds out the list of interested cities. Earlier this year Sion in Switzerland lost a referendum, ending its chances, and Graz in Austria dropped out due to political indifference.
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.