An International Olympic Committee (IOC) delegation of 15 members and experts touched down in Sweden Monday to tour proposed venues and review details of the Stockholm-Åre 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid.
The Evaluation Commission, tasked with being the eyes and ears of IOC members who will vote for a 2026 host city in June, will use the visit to build a report for the almost-100 IOC members who are set to choose between Sweden’s candidate or a project from Italian cities Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The IOC team led by Romanian IOC member Octavian Morariu will be accompanied by IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi as they meet with Swedish IOC Executive Board member Gunilla Lindberg, Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid CEO Richard Brisius and Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) Chair Mats Årjes.
The venue tour will begin Tuesday at the ski facilities in Åre then teams travel to Stockholm Wednesday to inspect other existing venues including the Olympic Stadium that was built for the 1912 Games. The tour continues in Falun Thursday for a review of Nordic combined and Ski Jumping venues before returning to the Capital Friday for a full day of discussions and a review of the bid book.
Morariu and Dubi plan to discuss their findings with the media on Saturday morning.
The visit will not include a trip to Segulda in Latvia where the proposed sliding track regularly stages World Cup events. IOC officials will instead rely on the International Federations to provide input on the adequacy of the venue.
Last week Dubi said the IOC will try to be transparent during the site visits which, if accomplished, would be in contrast to previous years when meetings were secretive and held mostly behind closed doors.
“This is an important and exciting week in our work to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026,” Brisius said in a statement.
“It’s an opportunity to showcase our world-class facilities and describe how we would like to implement the Winter Olympics in seven years.
“We welcome the IOC group, who are all real experts in this field, and we look forward to listening to their thoughts and suggestions on how we could possibly improve and refine our bid.”
Morariu said “Over the coming weeks, the Commission is looking forward to learning more about their proposals and taking a first-hand look at the prospective venues.”
“This will be done through the lens of Olympic Agenda 2020, which has provided the candidates with increased flexibility and support to ensure sustainable Games plans that best align with the cities’ and regions’ long-term goals, bringing benefits to their local populations.”
Both bids are proposing regional projects with a combined total of 80 percent of all venues already in existence – a strategy that is said to significantly reduce the costs and risks of hosting the Games.
Public backing of an Olympics in Sweden will be foremost on the agenda this week.
Sweden’s bid is struggling to secure necessary government support for the bid. Last year the Stockholm city coalition government said it would not spend any taxpayer money on the project. The bid is in the midst of talks with the new national coalition government that formed earlier this year, and officials have described the discussions as heading in the “absolute right direction.”
Winning a consensus among the complex coalition is considered to be a challenging hurdle for Prime Minister Stefan Löfven who has said that he supports the project.
The Evaluation Commission will travel to Italy from April 2 to 6 to review the proposal from rival bid Milan-Cortina 2026. The team will start in Cortina to visit Alpine facilities, then head to the Antholz biathlon venue before traveling to Livgno and finally Milan to complete the inspection.
In Italy, the national government has refused to fund the project but has said it will provide political support. Bid organizers plan to fund the Games at the regional level but the existence of solid guarantees is ambiguous at this time.
Dubi has said that the IOC will remain “flexible” as the bids work toward securing guarantees ahead of the June 24 election in Lausanne, Switzerland.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from Sweden this week, 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.