A spokesperson for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thursday told reporters in Sweden that Stockholm’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid could be given extra time to secure required government guarantees.
IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi told local media “In exceptional situations we can be exceptionally flexible, there is no reason to stop this entire project unless the warranty can be in place.”
Government guarantees are due into the IOC on January 11, along with the final bid book.
“If there is no government, we continue with everything else, which is 98.5 percent of the job.”
He said “this is a project we really love.”
Stockholm is competing against a joint Italian bid with Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, On Tuesday voters in Calgary, Canada rejected their potential bid when 56.4 percent voted against it in a plebiscite. City Council is expected to officially withdraw the project on Monday.
Dubi said he is “very comfortable” with both projects, describing Stockholm’s bid as having a “great quality” to it.
But Stockholm’s coalition government formed on the premise that it would not fund a bid, and the national government is currently hung and not able to offer any required guarantees.
In Italy, the federal government withdrew it’s financial support for the bid when the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) decided to exclude Turin from a three-city plan and move forward with only two of the cities.
“They’re both projects anchored in winter sports, and used to delivering them,” Dubi said. “We’re proud that these are both really aligned with the Agenda 2020 direction.”
“When politicians understand that we’re doing what we’re talking about, they’ll realize that this is a great financial opportunity.”
Dubi admitted that the IOC, as President Thomas Bach said last month, has no backup plan if the two cities are forced to drop out of the without government support. The IOC may have no choice but to extend the January deadline and offer the cities more time to work with government partners.
Stockholm bid officials have planned a meeting with the City next week to try to come to an agreement. They plan a low cost, privately funded project that will only require taxpayer involvement for the provision of essential service such as security.
Dubi defended the situation, he said “I wouldn’t say that Stockholm lacks political support. At this point in time, the government is still in the making, and that’s something we have to respect. It’s a democracy where you have to form a government according to a certain process, and this is what will be done.”
The bid will use mostly existing venues, including a sliding track in Latvia.
But Dubi stressed, the project will need strong support from residents across Stockholm.
He said that Stockholm represents key values the IOC is looking for, “First of all, this is ‘winter land’. These cities are names that resonate in a winter context – Stockholm, Falun, Åre and Sigunda (Latvia). For 2026, we’re looking for projects for 2026 that go back to the roots of winter sports.”
He explained his feelings on Calgary’s plebiscite loss explaining “when it comes to Calgary, it’s a feeling of both disappointment, but also realism. Calgary had a strong project, with very good conditions from a technical standpoint.”
“At the same time, the main concern when hosting the games if you ask any citizen is around the economics of the game. In Calgary, the main pieces of the jigsaw came very late – maybe a little too late.”
For 2022, four European cities dropped from the race leaving only Beijing to defeat Almaty in Kazakhstan. For 2026, a seven-city race is now down to two. European cities Graz in Austria and Sion in Switzerland have withdrawn.
Eight straight European cities lost Olympic bid referendums before Calgary’s defeat on Tuesday.
Dubi said the chances of the remaining two cities to win the bid are “50-50.”
Meanwhile the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) is readying a city to host for a “future Games.” By the end of December they will decide if Salt Lake City or Denver will compete for 2030, or maybe even a re-launched 2026 race.
The IOC will elect a winner for 2026 in June.
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.