GamesBids.com presents the ninth annual Top Ten list of Olympic Bid Stories for 2016. These stories impacted the course of Olympic host city bids, or the Olympic bid process, and formed interesting plot lines and story arcs for the year. We’ll run them down from 10th to 1st as the year ends – click on the links for details.
Top Olympic Bid Stories of 2016: #5 – Two Cities Showcase Promising Start To 2026 Olympic Winter Games Bid
The Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid for 2022 suffered an “epic fail,” to coin a term favored by today’s youth – the audience the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been working hard to capture to guarantee the viability of the Games moving forward. For 2022, the bid process collapsed in an unprecedented way, not only with the alienation of youth, but by losing key constituents at the heart of the Games themselves.
Four qualified European cities dropped out of the six-candidate race, one-by-one, each for their own geopolitical or economic reason. In the end it was snowless Beijing defeating lesser-known Almaty Kazakhstan, the only two cities remaining, to host the Games.
The root cause was the Russian over-indulgence in the Sochi 2014 Games where reportedly (USD) $51 billion was spent to build an Olympic Park from dust. But those Games were only the tipping-point of years of over-spending and poor legacy planning that burdened organizing cities and their citizens with debt and headaches.
Across Europe, this model was undeniably rejected.
IOC President Thomas Bach’s “Agenda 2020” was introduced to help repair the defective process and the image of the Games, but it came too late to have help save the 2022 bid. While many were concerned that the lost bids may never return again to host the Games, a glimmer of hope emerged and grew in 2016.
Two countries were at the forefront – both with National Olympic Committees that actively opened dialogues with potential candidates; both leveraging Agenda 2020 to move plans ahead.
In April, Swiss Olympic launched a domestic vetting process that was quite frankly, groundbreaking. It outlined an honest and realistic approach to bidding for the Olympic Games combining both the new Agenda 2020 benefits combined with the old politics of the IOC that are likely still prevalent today.
Commenting on an internal Swiss Olympic document I wrote “the centrepiece of the original document is a myth vs. reality commentary that tells it as it is, very refreshing in Olympic bidding circles.”
The document suggested, among other interesting points “…at the end of the day, a compact bid will always be attractive, for the athletes, for the International Federations, for the National Olympic Committees, and therefore for many voters.”
The document suggested “bidding for the Olympic Games is not an exact science. There are many factors that influence decisions, and a city never really knows why it won or why it lost.”
Prospective 2026 Olympic bids will likely hear more about this as part of an extended “invitation stage” that the IOC will use next year to open conversations with planners to set realistic expectations and reduce potentially “too many losers,” a voiced goal of Bach’s. The application deadline will not be before the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang.
Five initial projects interested in the Swiss nomination at the outset of the process were reduced to two at the submission deadline of the bid documents and the Federal Government has already discussed financial support. Final decisions could be made in March and April with the Sion and Eastern Switzerland projects being considered and 57 per cent across Switzerland supporting a bid.
In Canada, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) opened the door to cities interested in hosting future Winter and Summer Games, but in the end only Calgary – host of the 1988 Winter Games – expressed serious interest and went on to set up an exploratory committee, with (CDN) $5 million funding to study the project. A final report is expected in July.
Calgary hopes to leverage its existing Olympic legacy and couple it with new, required venues to provide an Agenda 2020 inspired bid.
Last Week Canada’s Prime Minister Trudeau said he saw value in the bid but stressed that results of the study and public support would be crucial moving forward. Reportedly sixty per cent back the bid.
Another promising potential bidder for the 2026 Games is two-time host (1964 and 1976) Innsbruck, Austria. A feasibility study has been funded and results are expected next year.
2022 Olympic bid runner-up Almaty remained quiet this year, but it is expected that the city could move forward, at least by becoming involved in the invitation stage next year. Last year Stockholm in Sweden expressed interest in a 2026 bid, but the city hasn’t discussed it openly in 2016.
In November a group in Sapporo, Japan submitted (USD) $3.5 billion plans to the Japanese Olympic Committee in a bid to host the Games. It will be an uphill battle, however, for the city that last hosted the 1972 Olympic Winter Games and is scheduled to stage the Asian Winter Games for a third time this February. Japan is already struggling to control the budget for the 2020 Games in Tokyo and it is unlikely the IOC will award a second Games to the nation while the first has yet to take place. Additionally, if Sapporo were to win, it would be the third straight Winter Games in East Asia following PyeongChang and Beijing.
Promoters from two-time host city Lake Placid, U.S.A. held out hope last week that a 2026 bid could still be open for the New York State city. Los Angeles is currently bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games and while that campaign is underway the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) would never provide a necessary endorsement for Lake Placid. But with the application deadline for 2026 being extended by the IOC until 2018 – there is belief that if America’s bid loses it’s shot at 2024, there will be time for the USOC to move forward with a Winter Games bid.
Ultimately, that will be up to the USOC to decide.
Though there are not yet any committed bids for the 2026 Games, there is much interest and promise – and hope that the IOC can reverse the downward spiral of available bidders for the Olympic Winter Games.