Reporting From Milan, Italy – Organizers of Italy’s Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid are holding their heads high Saturday after wrapping up a five-day inspection by the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) Evaluation Commission and receiving a glowing initial report.
“We were impressed by the broad political support from all levels of government for this project,” Evaluation Commission Chair Octavian Morariu said in his closing remarks at the Palazzo Marino in Milan referencing a letter received Friday from Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte confirming that the government will guarantee a budget for Games security and other requirements of up to 415 million euros (USD $466 million)
Morariu was also impressed with a university report commissioned by the Italian government that estimated the state can expect 600 million is Games-related revenues, more than enough to offset the public costs for Italians.
“The Games are also a true business opportunity as proven by the different economic studies recently published here,” he said, as the news helps illustrate the effectiveness of the IOC’s new reforms put into place to counter past budget over runs and a generally tarnished image.
“That’s why the IOC invests substantially in the success of the Games, with a contribution [to the organizing committee] of 925 million (US) dollars.
“We believe in the power of the Olympic Games and we welcome the fact that the local business sector agrees with us.”
A poll released Saturday claims there is 83 percent support for the Games across Italy, and 87 percent in Milan alone – far eclipsing figures compiled for the rival Swedish bid by Stockholm-Åre that saw numbers in the 50’s.
Bid Chief Giovanni Malagò was beaming in the glow of a successful week, he said at the Palazzo Reale “I’m very proud to be in this group and my thanks to all of you and the people on this side, at this fantastic place.”
“This is the most fantastic experience of my life,” he added.
Despite a constructive tour also held in Sweden last month, Italy’s bid has taken a strong lead due to the concrete guarantees in place that, for the first time, virtually assure the current bid process will find a qualified host for 2026. For months it had been feared that both cities might fail to get required financial backing and the IOC would need to scramble to find another option.
But Morariu denies that Italy has clinched victory, he said “Like in sports this is a race.”
“And all the times in a race someone is leading the race, but the final line is what matters and who crosses first.”
Despite a promise to announce her government’s position on financial guarantees “in weeks” last month by Sweden’s Culture Minister who is responsible for sport, Amanda Lind – IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said this week that he has not heard an update.
Sweden’s complex coalition government includes parties that both support and oppose the hosting of an Olympic Games. The Stockholm city government has refused to underwrite the Games but the Mayor last month offered to lease venues to the organizing committee.
A January 11 deadline for government guarantees was extended to April 12 after both bids came up empty, but now it seems the IOC is willing to wait even longer for Stockholm to get the critical documents signed – perhaps as late as June 24, the day the IOC is scheduled to elect a winner.
Morariu, when asked by GamesBids.com regarding the status of the deadline said “The 12th of April is the date that was established for the delivery of guarantees.”
“We will receive, or not, the guarantees on the 12th of April.
“What matters is that we receive the answers in a useful time to be analyzed, and enough time to be endorsed by the members of the Commission.
“I think we can be patient for the rest of April and let’s see what is happening then.”
Whether It is Italy or Sweden who host in 2026, challenges lie ahead for the IOC as the Games are organized with widespread regional concepts.
“As we have seen this week, taking advantage of the flexibility afforded by Olympic Agenda 2020 requires creative solutions in areas such as athletes’ experience and venue capabilities,” Morariu said.
With three Olympic Villages planned across Northern Italy, transportation and accommodation logistics become more complex in order to successfully serve the athletes and other stakeholders, most notably for the Ceremonies.
But the IOC remains focused on the competitions, Morariu said “As far as the competition is concerned the athletes are very close to the venues and this is maximizing all the best conditions for them to compete well.”
“So this is our first conclusion, that there are housing and transport for the athletes adapted to their competition sites.”
“What is important is we create a special Olympic atmosphere in those [remote] areas,” IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said describing the need to provide music, branding and the Games’ ‘look’ so that athletes feel part of the broader Games experience.
It is feared that a widespread concept will result in the feel of multiple World Championships and won’t provide the excitement of an Olympic Games.
The special atmosphere “is something we can create for spectators and for the media,” Dubi added.
Both bids are scheduled to deliver 15-minute presentations at the SportAccord Conference in Gold Coast, Australia May 5 to 10.
A technical briefing and presentation will be held at the IOC all-members Session on June 24 just ahead of the final vote.
GamesBids.com has been reporting from Italy 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 the bid.
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.