A working group report outlining and evaluating the proposals from four prospective 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bids was released by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Tuesday, indicating the projects have varying levels of support and preparedness.
The IOC confirmed the Executive Board’s decision to move forward with three cities including Calgary, Stockholm and Milan-Cortina, as well as changing the timing and location of the final election from Milan next September to Lausanne in June.
The changed date will reduce the candidature stage to one of the shortest in recent history, putting further emphasis on the readiness of the bids at this stage in the race.
The compressed timeline will also mean there will be less time to rally public support ahead of the final IOC vote
The Working Group Report weighed the public support available for each bid based on April 2018 commissioned surveys by Publicus Media. Italy showed the strongest support with 83 percent across Milan backing the bid while 12 percent remained neutral and 6 percent were opposed. Across Italy the numbers were 81 percent in support, 12 percent neutral and 6 percent opposed.
The numbers for Calgary were 54 percent support, 19 percent neutral and 28 opposed; across Canada 61 percent for, 23 percent neutral and 17 percent opposed.
Support was weaker for Stockholm with 49 percent support in the city while 26 percent were neutral and 25 percent opposed. Across Sweden 46 percent were in support with 30 percent neutral and 24 percent opposed.
For eliminated Erzurum, the numbers were 95 / 3 / 3 locally and 90 / 9 / 2 across Turkey.
According to the working group, Stockholm is hoping to fund its Olympic Games privately, but would still require public sectors to fund government services that would support the bid. Funding details, and costs of some venues including the Olympic Village has not been provided because potential government partners have yet to engage with the bid.
The political situation in Sweden is volatile with a currently hung parliament. All levels of government will need to be on board with the bid by the January 11 IOC deadline before Stockholm can move forward.
IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch who is leading the working group remained optimistic and said to the IOC members “the indications is that we get from both political parties [in Sweden] are very positive.”
“Either way these [parliamentary] negotiations will go probably from a government that will be supportive of the Games.”
The report noted in Calgary’s file that the city will vote in a November 13 plebiscite before the bid can be approved, and only after a multi-party agreement among city, province and federal partners is signed in October. Specific details about stakeholder support could be delayed according to local Calgary media reports.
The Milan-Cortina evaluation came with a disclaimer, noting that site evaluations were not available due to the late organization of the two-city joint bid. The Italian project had been proposed as a three-city bid with Turin before the 2006 host city was left out of the project because it refused to accept Milan as lead city.
Samaranch said during a presentation to IOC members “people might say we only have three candidate cities, but they are extraordinary. I say three is plenty.”
“Any of the three would be a very trustworthy partner for us.”
Confirming rumors that had been denied by Erzurum officials last month, the Turkish bid was proposing the use of two venues in Sochi, Russia that were built for the 2014 Games including the sliding track and speed skating oval. Co-hosting with Russia on the heels of the state-supported doping scandal could have sparked an athlete revolt and international outrage, and may have been a key factor in dropping Erzurum from shortlist.
The report also noted several infrastructure deficiencies in Erzurum’s file.
Bid books will be due from the three approved cites in January and the IOC Evaluation Commission will visit the candidates for on site evaluations in March and April.
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.