The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has approved the Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo joint 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid, leaving Turin out in the cold.
The announcement made by Lombardy Governor Attilio Fontana and later confirmed by Veneto Governor Luca Zaia came even before CONI was able to comment on the situation.
A CONI spokesperson confirmed to GamesBids.com by telephone that the bid report presented last Friday had been approved, and is the Italian choice moving forward.
“We are presenting an innovative project, along the lines of Agenda 2020 and the new rules, which will include not only the cities of Milan and Cortina but also the respective Regions, Lombardy and Veneto, both ready to support the offer and provide guarantees,” CONI President Giovanni Malagò wrote in a letter to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Monday morning.
“We are obviously delighted with this choice,” Zaia said on Twitter.
“I thank the government, CONI and all those who have worked in this month for this candidacy that we will honor by working with our heads down to remain in history as a memorable Olympics.”
The decision will leave Turin, and Mayor Chiara Appendino out of contention after the 2006 Olympic host city was originally included in a three-city nationally led project. Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala had insisted his city take a lead role in the project but Appendino refused to participate in the background, causing the deal to fall apart.
Milan and Cortina then quickly reorganized as a two city Milan-led project – leaving Turin officials to declare their single-city bid.
The resulting discord caused the Italian government last week to pull all funding promised to the project, agreeing only to support a resulting bid if other means of financing are arranged.
CONI officials claim that this amounts to needed “political support” for the project and that funding by the regional governments shouldn’t be an issue.
“The regions representing Milan and Cortina make up 40 percent of Italy’s GDP, so the money is there,” the CONI spokesperson claimed.
The regional governments are also looking into private investment options.
Funds expected from the Italian government were estimated at €380 million (USD $446 million), and organizers were hoping some of that investment would cover costly sliding track upgrades required to the Cortina facility that was built for the bobsleigh event at the 1956 Winter Olympics.
The Mayors and other officials will meet for the first time to discuss the joint project in Venice on Thursday (October 4) while CONI officials, including President Malagò, will head to the Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. On October 8 in the Argentine Capital the IOC will announce a short list of cities invited to enter the 2026 race.
Calgary in Canada, Erzurum in Turkey and Stockholm in Sweden are other cities campaigning for the Games, and if they qualify to move forward they will have until January to submit completed bid books and government guarantees before the host city is elected September 2019.
Calgary faces a critical November 13 plebiscite while Stockholm is still seeking government support and Erzurum struggles with security issues in its volatile region. The IOC will be looking for the Italian bid to quickly and successfully organize so that it may have the opportunity to bring the Winter Games back to Europe, and Italy, for the first time since Turin 2006.
Beijing will host the next Winter Games in 2022.
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.