Erzurum’s Possible 2026 Winter Olympic Bid Buoyed By Turkish President’s Remarks

A 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid from Erzurum in Turkey has gained new energy, and interest was further buoyed Friday by remarks from President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Türk Telekom Ski Jumping Towers built for 2011 Winter Universiade is located on the Kiremitlik Hill at the base of Palandöken Mountain just southwest of Erzurum, Turkey (Wikipedia Photo)

Türk Telekom Ski Jumping Towers built for 2011 Winter Universiade is located on the Kiremitlik Hill at the base of Palandöken Mountain just southwest of Erzurum, Turkey (Wikipedia Photo)

Speaking at the 6th Provincial Congress of Erzurum, Erdoğan said “there are six other countries outside of us [interested in bidding for the 2026 Games].  They are also in competition.  I hope that you will do our application.”

“We will do our best to bring the Olympics to Erzurum.”

According to local media reports the President addressed the planned construction of 930 university student accommodations, as well as new transportation infrastructure, in his case that Erzurum could host a successful Games.  He said there is more investment in the region to come.

Earlier this month it was reported in Sabah that a local investor was spearheading work to move a bid forward after the President first brought up the possibility last April.

Milliyet reported that government officials are now on board with the project.  Erzurum Youth Services and Sports Provincial Director Fuat Taşkesenligil said “under the leadership of our President, we name the 2026 Winter Olympics, the 2023 vision, worthy of the Olympics in Turkey. Erzurum is a city with a capacity to do Olympic sports with existing sports facilities.”

Turkey's President Recep Erdogan speaks at Istanbul 2020 final bid presentation in Buenos Aires (GamesBids Photo)

Turkey’s President Recep Erdogan speaks at Istanbul 2020 final bid presentation in Buenos Aires (GamesBids Photo)

Erzurum, located in the north-eastern mountainous region of Turkey, hosted the European Youth Olympic Winter Festival (EYOF) last year, and previously the 2011 Winter Universiade.  Along with nearby Erzican and Kars – existing Winter sports infrastructure is available including a ski jump facility.

The deadline for Erzurum to express interest is March 31, and if the Turkish project moves forward it will join bids from Calgary in Canada, Sapporo in Japan, Sion in Switzerland, Stockholm in Sweden and Graz in Austria.  An Italian bid from either Turin or Milan could also enter the race.  The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will narrow to a short list in October before a final election is held in September 2019.

Turkey has never hosted or bid for the Olympic Winter Games but has been relentless in efforts to land the Summer edition.  Istanbul aggressively entered five failed attempts to host the 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2020 Olympic Games.  Most recently Istanbul shared the final ballot with Tokyo but lost the 2020 Games by a vote of 60 to 36.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil