Favourite Emerges As IOC Accepts Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic Bid Without Government Funding

A 2026 Winter Olympics bid by Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy will be accepted by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) even without funding and financial guarantees from the Italian national government, it was reported from Rome Thursday.

IOC President Thomas Bach (centre) with Italian President Sergio Mattarella (left) and CONI President Giovanni Malagò (CONI Photo)

IOC President Thomas Bach (centre) with Italian President Sergio Mattarella (left) and CONI President Giovanni Malagò (CONI Photo)

IOC President Thomas Bach, according to reports from AP, said he was confident with the funding arrangements made by regional governments representing the two cities instead.

“This candidature is very strong because it reflects the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020,” Bach said, referring to recent changes by the IOC that help reduce the costs and risks of hosting the Games.

“The guarantees which have been expressed by Lombardy and Veneto (regions) are very important to secure the overall candidature. That is well appreciated by the IOC.”

Bach was assured by government undersecretary and sports delegate Giancarlo Giorgetti that non-financial guarantees for things such as such as security and visa support would still by extended by Italian authorities.

“We are leaving Rome and Italy with much more confidence about this candidature,” said Bach.

“We really see things coming along.”

Italy’s bid was originally a three-city concept including 2006 host city Turin, but Milan’s mayor insisted his city take lead on the project – a condition that Turin’s mayor would not accept.  Milan and Cortina then struck a deal with the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to bid on their own just days before an IOC deadline in October.

During the political fallout of the reorganized bid, the national government withdrew its plans to provide financial support.  Now the leaders of the two most affluent regions in Italy say they’ll fund the project, along with some private investment.

IOC Experts Tour Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympic Bid Venues; Turin Remains An Option

Last week a memorandum of understanding was signed for the organization of the Olympic Winter and Paralympic Games 2026 involving the Lombardy Region, the Veneto Region, the Municipality of Milan, the Municipality of Cortina d’Ampezzo and CONI.

CONI says the project will be easy on taxpayers because existing venues will be leveraged, with ice events to be held in Milan and most snow events held in other areas in the region, and in Cortina.  The sliding venue, built for the Cortina 1956 Games will require the most costly upgrades.

Ski jumping would be held at an existing in-use facility in Predazzo, located in the Trentino-Alto Adige region.

During Bach’s visit, he met with Italian President Sergio Mattarella.

Italy has withdrawn two consecutive bids for the Olympics, both by Rome to host the Summer Games in 2020 and 2024.  The Prime Minister refused to provide support for the 2020 bid just hours before a deadline and a newly elected Rome Mayor pulled the plug on the 2024 bid to instead focus on other priorities.

If Italian plans work out, the bid will quickly become the favourite to host in 2026.  The IOC has been eager to return the Winter Games to its traditional roots in Europe.

Bach told ANSA in Rome “It is still a good competition: Italy with its passion for sport and ability to successfully organize major events has excellent chances of victory.”

“An Olympic bid is not a small thing, there will be this (referendum) in Canada and we’ll see what happens.

“But if I have to give advice to all the candidates it is to only count on your own strengths, without looking at the others.”

Calgary has planned a non-binding but likely decisive plebiscite for November 13.  Recent polls suggest public support for the bid is weak, but could strengthen after a new funding deal was struck among government partners.

A bid from Stockholm in Sweden has planned a project with no taxpayer commitments, but hasn’t been able to secure any government support.

Guarantees from all bids are due, along with project plans, on January 11.

The IOC will elect a winner at the end of June in Lausanne, Switzerland.

IOC President Thomas Bach addresses media after PyeongChang Executive Board meeting (IOC Photo)

Amid an announcement from Argentina that the South American country has planned to study a possible 2026 bid to fill any gap, and a recently activated domestic campaign for a “future” bid by the United States Olympic Committee (USOC), Bach denies that there is any backup plan should all bids fall through

“We are in the race for 2026 and we will not change the rules in the middle of the race,” he told reporters.

“On the other hand, we are very happy to see already now there is good interest to host the Winter Games in 2030.  We have a number of notifications from national committees interested.”

About Robert Livingstone

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.