Reporting from Livigno, Italy – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) 2026 Olympic Bid Evaluation Commission arrived in Venice Monday and has so far logged about 870 km traveling through Northern Italy and even into nearby Switzerland to visit snow and ice venues proposed for the Milan-Cortina Olympic bid.
Before finally arriving in Milan Wednesday evening, the team of IOC members, executives and technical experts led by Octavian Morariu has spent hours in a bus, as much as four hours at a time, traveling through mountains and the Italian countryside. This is a challenge the IOC has yet to face in an Olympic Winter Games bid.
New sustainable and regional bid plans that were formerly frowned upon, but now approved due to Olympic Agenda 2020 bid reforms, have literally and figuratively changed the Games’ landscape. Though a necessary step to keep the cost of the bloated Winter Games in check, new concepts mean new challenges, and it seems the IOC and the bids are working together to solve them along the way.
“Yes, there is a lot of time on the road,” Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) Chief Giovanni Malagò admitted from Livigno, Italy Wednesday where the IOC team stopped for a lunch break after inspecting snowboard and freestyle ski venues in the resort town bordering on Switzerland.
He wasn’t concerned however, saying that he believes the bid has made a good impression on the IOC due to its adherence to new sustainability reforms – an element that has added to travel times.
“For me the feeling is very positive,” he added.
Morariu concurred from the IOC side explaining “I don’t think transportation would be a major handicap, honestly I don’t think so because people come here for the competition and for the athletes and I think everybody coming here would care less about the transport and more about the competition.”
IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said last month in Falun, Sweden that the IOC accepts the new widespread plans where 80 percent of venues are temporary or already exist, and that the travel distances involved only burden IOC members and members of the media. The athlete’s experience is the priority, he reminded, while the same IOC team was inspecting the Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid.
But it became clear Wednesday that there are still unresolved issues needing to be worked through by the IOC and Milano-Cortina 2026, including some impacting the athlete experience.
It is common for athletes at the Games to support their team members in other sports after completing their own events. For the full athlete experience and to cheer on their teams, they may need to travel to another cluster hours away – and may need accommodations in the region.
In Italy, three Olympic Villages are planned in Milan, Cortina and Livigno. Should an athlete complete her curling event in Cortina, she may want to watch snowboarding in Livigno several hours away. Currently there are no plans for athletes to change accommodations from one Village to another.
When asked if this has been considered, Malagò said “for the moment no, but this could be a good idea.”
Morariu, when asked the same question said “This is a subject that we’ll definitely take on board and that we’ll discuss with the bidding committee.”
“And it could only add value to the Games and obviously to the benefits to the athletes.”
The same challenge may also by faced by broadcasters and journalists who cover multiple sports and may need accommodations in multiple clusters, or to change plans quickly as the events unfold. These are typically booked months in advance.
Even IOC members will have to consider their accommodations more carefully as they travel from sport-to-sport.
Travel times may also impact the spectator experience.
Dubi praised the professionalism of the Italian organizers, and it seems if the Games are awarded to Milan-Cortina they will be solving several problems together on-the-go.
On Wednesday the IOC team visited Livigno venues proposed for snowboard and freestyle skiing as well as the site for the proposed Olympic Village in the cluster comprised of both permanent and temporary structures. They also traveled to Bormio where men’s Alpine skiing would be staged during the Games.
On Thursday the tour will pick up in Milan where the group will see proposed venues for ice hockey, figure skating and short track speed skating, the Opening Ceremony, the main media and broadcast centres and the Milan Olympic Village.
At the Palazzo Reale in Milan on Friday, the IOC delegation and the Milan-Cortina 2026 bid team will meet to review the bid book and address questions and answers. The visit will wrap up Saturday with a press conference.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from Italy this week until April 7, bringing you on-site coverage of the important Evaluation Commission visit. Follow us on Twitter @GamesBids or on Facebook to keep up with this event.