Sport officials in Italy hoping to clarify the organization of the nation’s 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid will have crucial meetings in Rome this week as they gather for the Volleyball World Championship and the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) General Assembly
Italy’s Secretary of Sport Giancarlo Giorgetti and CONI President Giovanni Malagò were first to meet Monday with Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala, to be followed on Tuesday by meetings with officials from Cortina and Turin.
“If there were doubts about Milan, today we can say that Milan’s intention is to participate,” Carlo Mornati, Secretary General of CONI and coordinator of Italy’s 2026 bid told ANSA.
Last month CONI announced that Italy would forward a joint bid among Milan, Turin and Cortina with a regional plan that leverages venues that already exist. Both Turin (2006) and Cortina d’Ampezzo (1956) have previously hosted the Games, but Milan’s Mayor said he had already been assured by CONI that his city could play the lead role in organizing the Games should Italy be chosen host city in 2026.
On the announcement last month, angered Sala threatened to withdraw his city from the plans but later he reconsidered, instead suggesting that further discussions could help remedy the situation.
“I think [the three city joint bid] is a botched solution,” he said in August.
“I asked for a meeting immediately and I was told that we will see each other in September, so let’s wait.
“Together with the other mayors we’ll sit down and rebuild.”
Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino also shunned a shared bid, explaining that the city “will not be a crutch to other cities.”
CONI will still reportedly push for the three-city regional project as the best path forward, but they fear losing Milan as a critical component of that concept.
Even if an agreement is reached, the cities involved would need municipal approvals before moving forward.
According to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) charter, an Olympic Games must be branded with a single lead city, so it remains unclear how such a bid would be forwarded. When asked by GamesBids.com last month, an IOC spokesperson couldn’t clarify the situation, adding only that “The IOC will continue to work with CONI and the three cities.”
There is pressure to resolve the dispute quickly as CONI and bid officials will be traveling to Buenos Aires, Argentina next month where the IOC are due to announce a short-list of candidates that can continue bidding to host the Games.
Other cities looking to be added to the list in October have equally unstable foundations.
Calgary faces an “off-ramp” vote by City Council Tuesday when the bid committee is expected to release detailed plans and budgets to the public. The Canadian city has also scheduled a November 13 plebiscite to let the public weigh in. If either of those votes fail, the bid will be canceled.
Stockholm has yet to receive government approvals for its project, but the Swedish Olympic Committee is hopeful that it will receive the necessary endorsements. Last year the city’s Mayor voiced her opposition to the bid, but Stockholm has until January 2019 to convince politicians otherwise.
The Japanese former 1972 Winter Games host city Sapporo has yet to fully commit to the 2026 Games and reports are suggesting that the city may delay the bid until 2030 instead when a newly delivered rail line to the city will be delivered.
The remaining bid from Erzurum in Turkey will face security and venue challenges from the outset, and isn’t considered a strong candidate.
Earlier this year a bid from Sion in Switzerland was forced to exit the race after losing a referendum, and an Austrian project from Graz dropped out when it couldn’t rally support from politicians.
Bid books are due in January and the IOC will elect a winner September 2019 at a Session scheduled to be held in Milan. However, if an Italian bid remains in the race, the final vote may have to be moved outside of the country.