Sweden’s bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games introduced new branding and marketing assets last month aimed at leveraging the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) push for new innovative and sustainable Games concepts.
The newly dubbed Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid adds the name of the mountain venue region of the project to Capital Stockholm where ice events are being proposed. The IOC has previously frowned upon jointly named candidate and host cities for the Games – a rule that has been explicit in the Olympic Charter – but it seems the organization has relaxed the rule to stay consistent with new sustainability reforms contained within Olympic Agenda 2020.
The sliding track for bobsleigh, luge and skeleton would be located in Segulda, Latvia.
The strategy matches that of the rival Italian bid where Milan-Cortina would stage many of the competitions within a regional concept that could also include events in 2006 Olympic host city Turin.
For years bids that located many of the competitions and facilities within a compact footprint, even if new construction was needed, were considered most competitive. Now the focus is on the use of existing facilities to keep costs and risks low, even if they lie across a larger region.
At the PyeongChang Winter Games last year, many venues were located in two compact Olympic parks.
In a January 11 press release the IOC wrote “The names of the candidatures reflect the projects and their maximum use of existing, traditional winter sports venues. Each of the candidatures has also outlined its plans for ensuring unique Games-time experiences for athletes, spectators and media.”
Stockholm-Åre launched a new website last week at stockholm-are2026.com showing off its new candidature logo and the full 68-page bid book with plans for the proposed Games.
Along with the new name, a “Made in Sweden” slogan has been showcased that, according to the bid, reflects the “bold and profound” vision to create a transformative Games – for the first time in Sweden.
Planners point to Sweden’s financial stability and acumen to formulate a new feasible hosting model for the future.
“We are historically famous for finding practical, useful and cost-efficient solutions to challenges like these,” the bid book explains pointing to companies such as IKEA known for innovating stylish and affordable furniture in a “flat-pack, build-it-yourself model” and Ericsson for their early groundbreaking achievements in mobile phone technology.
The IOC has already faced the cancellation of three of seven 2026 applications due to cost concerns, and four of six bids dropped out of the 2022 Winter Games race for similar reasons. Both remaining candidates Sweden and Italy are basing their projects primarily on the ability to host the Games on a budget using mostly existing facilities.
The USD $1.517 billion budget (in 2018 costs) is expected to leave a small $37 million surplus.
Sweden’s plans are contingent on receiving government backing and assurances for essential services including security, but a newly formed coalition government in parliament has yet to fully vet the project. The nation’s sport minister appointed just two weeks ago says she likes the opportunity but must get buy-in from various coalition parties before giving the go-ahead.
Stockholm’s city coalition government has already proclaimed that it will not invest any taxpayer money in the project should it move forward.
Guarantees were due into the IOC last month but both bids were granted indefinite extensions to secure the needed support. An IOC Evaluation Commission is expected to visit Sweden from March 12 to 16 and Italy between April 2 and 6.
The IOC will choose a winner at the end of June in Lausanne, Switzerland.