Reporting From Stockholm, Sweden – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) bid evaluation team leaves Sweden Saturday pleased with the results of a five day visit to Åre, Falun and capital Stockholm after inspecting venues and reviewing plans to host the nation’s first-ever Olympic Winter Games.
Evaluation Commission Chair Octavian Morariu said from the Stockholm Epicenter Saturday that the Stockholm-Åre 2026 Olympic bid strategy to site venues in four separate clusters across Sweden and in Latvia is in-line with the IOC’s new reforms.
“The candidature benefits greatly from using the best existing facilities in Stockholm, Åre, Falun, and Sigulda,” Morariu said, “and thus fully reflects the Olympic Agenda 2020.”
“We are happy to see ever increasing public support as evidenced by the recent IOC poll which is shared to the candidature committee yesterday.”
The poll commissioned by the IOC in February revealed that 55 percent in Sweden support the bid while only 17 percent are opposed and 28 percent undecided.
“And we are pleased with the strong support and involvement by the private sector too,” he added, referring to partnership deals with communications technology company Ericsson and medical technology firm Permobil.
Morariu was also clear that there are areas of concern that need to be resolved if Sweden hopes to win the June 24 election.
“We all agree that work remains to be done to define the roles and responsibilities of the different stakeholders within the required timelines,” he added.
“We also look forward to receiving more details about the delivery of the Olympic Villages in Stockholm and Åre.
The commission did not visit the sliding track in Sigulda, Latvia due to time constraints. The proposed venue for bobsled, luge and skeleton lies across the Baltic Sea and requires a one-hour flight or longer ferry transfer to visit.
Falun, the site for ski jumping and Nordic combined events, is about three hours away from Stockholm by rail or car.
Åre lies 600 km northwest of the Capital and requires air or rail travel to visit.
But the IOC insisted that this venue plan, one that could be the most widespread in Olympic history, is perfectly in line with their expectations.
“The results [of recent bid reforms] is two bids that fits exactly the vision that we had in Agenda 2020 which is to use what you have,” IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said Saturday.
“Use your assets, use your expertise, do not build if it is not necessary, build only if there is a legacy and as you see here, what you see in [Italy’s bid Milan-Cortina] is exactly that vision.”
Starting in 2013 and the election of IOC President Thomas Bach, the IOC has slowly rolled-in bid reforms as cities began to back away from bidding for the Games due to escalating costs and risks. Emphasizing efficiency, sustainability, and flexibility – the reforms were too late to save four-of-six bids that dropped out of the 2022 Winter Games race and five-of seven that are now out for 2026.
Dubi said that the IOC and bid teams are now working collaboratively to properly execute the new reforms, and that’s the reason why the remaining two bids are strong.
“From this standpoint, yes, there is a process but behind it there is a spirit and philosophy,” Dubi said.
“The spirit is the collaboration and the philosophy is to adapt the Games to a local context, and this is what we have so I would say from this standpoint – it’s a strike.”
Swedish organizers now wait for a government decision on whether to provide necessary guarantees to the IOC to support the bid. If those assurances are denied, Stockholm-Åre will be forced to end its run at the Games.
According to Sweden’s Minister of Culture and Sport Amanda Lind, the decision will be made ahead of an April 12 deadline set by the IOC.
But Dubi has hinted that the deadline is flexible.
“I don’t say that by the 12th of April it will be the final point to each of the guarantees,” he said.
“We will continue to exchange and fine-tune to have the ideal guarantees that will fit the context here and also much of what is expected from and IOC standpoint.”
Morariu and his team will travel to Italy for a similar inspection from April 2 to 6. The commission will produce a report for IOC voting members by the end of May before the IOC Session elects a winner June 24 in Lausanne, Switzerland.