Political Group Organized To Support Sion 2026 Olympic Winter Games Bid

A political committee has been formed among cantons of Valais, Vaud and Friborg and the town of Sion in Switzerland with a mandate to liaise with the cantons “in all matters (political support, legal and financial aspects, etc.) whenever necessary,” with respect to the region’s bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it was announced in Sion Monday.

In attendance at the announcement were Frédéric Favre, minister of sport, security and institutions of the canton of Valais, Philippe Leuba, minister in charge of economic affairs and sport of the canton of Vaud, Benoît Gisler, who represented Jean-Pierre Siggen, minister of sport, education and culture of the canton of Fribourg, Philippe Varone, mayor of host city Sion, and Jean-Philippe Rochat, president of the Sion 2026 bid committee.

Favre has been named Chair of the committee which will meet on a regular basis until the International Olympic Committee (IOC) elects a 2026 host city in 2019.

This announcement, the group says, “is a further step in the great cooperation between the national and regional political authorities, the bid and Swiss Olympic and will further strengthen the Swiss project.”

The Canton of Bern, a statement said, could also join the group in the coming weeks.

Sion, in Western Switzerland, became the first city to enter the 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid race in April after the Swiss Parliament of Sport’s General Assembly voted unanimously to support the project.

Members of the Swiss Parliament of Sport vote 78-0 to approve Sion 2026 Olympic Winter Games candidacy (Sion 2026 photo)

Members of the Swiss Parliament of Sport vote 78-0 to approve Sion 2026 Olympic Winter Games candidacy (Sion 2026 photo)

Switzerland has hosted the Olympic Winter Games twice in St. Moritz in 1928 and 1948.  Swiss city Lausanne, home of the IOC, will host the Youth Winter Games in 2020.

If the region hopes to host again in 2026 it will likely need to win a referendum next year over funding for the project.

In 1997, a referendum in Valais was won with 67 per cent support to finance the Sion 2006 Winter Games bid that subsequently lost to Italian city Torino.  Sion also lost a bid for the 1976 Olympic Games that were won by Denver and later handed to Innsbruck when the U.S. city backed out.

Earlier this month International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach announced changes to the 2026 Winter Games bid process geared to make bidding easier and less costly.  As part of the reforms, the duration of the campaign has been limited to one year (half of typically two years previously required).

Interested cities will be able to join the Observer’s Program for bid cities at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games in February, and the formal process will likely launch in the weeks following.  The IOC will elect the winning city in its Session in 2019.

Other cities interested in lodging bids for the 2026 Games are past hosts Calgary, Innsbruck and Sapporo as well as Erzurum in Turkey.

About Robert Livingstone

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.