Sion 2026 Blames Poor Communication For Budget Discrepancy

According to a Swiss news report, the 2026 Olympic Winter Games in Sion Switzerland could cost CHF 2.4 billion (USD $2.4 billion), not the CHF 1.98 billion (USD $2 billion) that had been previously disclosed by the bid committee.

Sion, Switzerland to bid for 2026 Olympic Winter Games (Sion 2026 Presentation Page)

Sion, Switzerland to bid for 2026 Olympic Winter Games (Sion 2026 Presentation Page)

Sion 2026 outlined its proposed budget October 18, and have confirmed that nothing has fundamentally changed since.

“From now on we need to be more transparent,” Sion 2026 Vice President Bernard Rüeger told Swiss Television RTS after he explained that the budget had been miscommunicated.

He further elaborated during the RTS Infrarouge program that the initial budget figures only include operational costs, and not the funding required for infrastructure and Games-time security.  Figures reported by RTS showing an additional cost of CHF 425 million have been confirmed by the bid committee’s financial director and includes those costs as well as the estimated price of the bid candidacy.

Also not included in the budget is the Olympic Village, a privately funded apartment complex.  A feasibility study conducted prior to the bid indicated that security costs could increase ahead of the Games.

The costs could present a hurdle for the bid as it needs to ramp up public support ahead of an expected binding referendum next October.  Last week the Federal Government agreed to endorse the bid and provide up to CHF 1 billion to organize the Games on the condition that the project uses mostly existing infrastructure in order to keep costs and risks low.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has said that new bidding rules for the 2026 Games will allow cities to decrease organizing budgets by $500 million compared with previous Games by introducing new efficiencies.

Sion 2026 requires two additional approvals in Parliament before December 2018 in order for the bid to move forward.  Applications to host the Games are due into the IOC by March 31, 2018 with the final election set to take place in Milan in September 2018.

Earlier this month Innsbruck in Austria was eliminated from the race after narrowly losing a bid referendum.  A bid from Stockholm, Sweden is still seeking government support while a project from Calgary in Canada needs the go-ahead from a newly elected City Council.

A possible bid from Sapporo, Japan has entered discussions with the IOC while interest has been voiced by Erzurum in Turkey and 2022 runner-up bid Almaty in Kazakhstan.

(Edited October 27)

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.