IOC President Bach Blames Stockholm Åre 2026 Loss On Lower Public Support

Reporting From Lausanne, Switzerland – International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach Monday was quick to compliment both winning and losing 2026 Olympic bids from Milan-Cortina in Italy and Stockholm-Åre in Sweden for leveraging Agenda 2020 and New Norm reforms to propose sustainable hosting concepts.

IOC President Thomas Bach signs host agreement with Milan-Cortina 2026 (IOC Photo)
IOC President Thomas Bach signs host agreement with Milan-Cortina 2026 (IOC Photo)

“I would like to congratulate Milan Cortina for this victory,” he said adding “which for the IOC is a great day.”

“We have the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in a traditional winter sport country with experience and passionate fans and athletes.

“What was impressive today was the focus of both candidates on the focus on Olympic Agenda 2020 and sustainability in the focus.

“They both focus on existing venues and can significantly reduce costs of the Games.”

But Bach blamed low public support with Stockholm Åre’s eventual demise, something the bid had struggled with since the outset the campaign.

“My assumption is what was key was the gap in public support,” he said.

“The 83 percent to 55 percent.”

Both numbers were found in IOC Commissioned polls taken earlier this year.  Sweden officials had defended the numbers explaining that Swedes needed time to learn about the project and warm up to the idea.

Indeed, a poll released Thursday in Switzerland had provided respondents with basic information about the bid, and revealed that 63 percent were in favour of the project with only 16 percent against.  Bid officials claimed these results were in line with those from Paris 2024 and LA 2028.

“To many members this (gap) was a clear signal.

“Public support often goes hand-in-hand with political support.”

“Maybe this is why the city of Stockholm was not ready to sign the host city contract.”

An IOC Evaluation Commission said earlier this year that the omission of the Stockholm Mayor’s signature on the host contract would not be a problem under new, flexible rules.

Åre was to guarantee the Games instead.

Italian bid team celebrate the awarding of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games to Milan Cortina (IOC Photo)
Italian bid team celebrate the awarding of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games to Milan Cortina (IOC Photo)

Stockholm City has been supportive of the Games and willing to provide services to host them, but Mayor Anna König Jerlmyr was unable to provide funding or guarantees due to previous decisions made with her complex coalition government.  Instead, she offered to lease venues to the organizing committee.

Bach also pointed to the high number of existing venues in the Milan Cortina plan that made Italy’s bid more attractive.

“The candidature of Milan and Cortina stood out with 93 per cent existing venues,” he said.

Sweden’s bid had planned the construction of venues that the bid said were necessary, including a speed skating oval and cross country ski venue.  A Cortina d’Ampezzo sliding track will be rebuilt for Italy’s Games.

On Italy, Bach was more positive, he said “with this [Milan Cortina] project aligned with Agenda 2020, we have seen how we can lower the complexity of the Games.”

“We have seen how this can be addressed in a better way.  The use of existing facilities is helping to achieve legacy goals.”

“With this enthusiasm and support of the Italians, the foundations are laid for fantastic preparations.

“This is not only a victory for Milan Cortina, but a victory for Italian sports fans.”

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.

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