The joint 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo has won critical Italian government approval according to local media sources.
One day before bid books and guarantees are to be delivered to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland, ANSA has reported that government sources on the sidelines of a cabinet meeting in Rome Thursday said the government has approved the project.
The details of the approval are not yet clear, and there has be no mention of funding.
Various local reports indicate that municipal support for the project has also been secured and will be outlined in the bid book. This milestone is significant for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) that saw Capital Rome’s bids for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games both dissolve after losing national support and municipal support, respectively.
The 2026 joint bid was formed after original plans for a trio that also included 2006 Olympic host city Turin fell apart, and at that time government officials declared the bid “dead.”
Undersecretary to the Presidency of the Council with delegation to the Sport Giancarlo Giorgetti then said his government would not provide funding for the new joint bid to be led by Milan, but could provide political support for the project.
Now, according to local sources Giorgetti has indicated “I am satisfied with the government’s go-ahead to the candidacy of Milan and Cortina for the Winter Olympics under the agreed conditions.”
The IOC will look to the national government to provide security services, immigration and visa support and other essential services needed to host the Games. Details of the support may be included in the bid dossier to be released Friday on a new Website to be unveiled by the bid.
According to SKY Sports 40 USB keys with the required files are already on their way to Olympic headquarters and will be in the hands of IOC President Thomas Bach Friday.
The joint bid is to be funded by the Lombardy and Veneto regions representing the bid cities, and the municipalities are said to be on board with plans that outline a national bid with venues spread across three regions in Italy.
Branding a bid with two city names is not permitted according to the Olympic Charter, but with five of seven original candidates already dropping from the 2026 race, it’s possible that the IOC will make an exception with Italy.
Events to be held in Milan include the Opening Ceremony at the Meazza Stadium, hockey at the PalaItalia and short track and figure skating at the Mediolanum Forum.
The Olympic Village will be built at the old railway station of Porta Romana.
Alpine skiing will be staged among Cortina, Val di Fiemme, Predazzo, Bormio and Livigno.
Italy’s only rival is a bid from Stockholm in Sweden where the Winter Games have never been held.
On Thursday, Stockholm 2026 won the support of three regional governors representing proposed venue locations. But the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) is still missing endorsements from the national government which has yet to form in Parliament since last year’s elections, and from the city coalition government that was organized with the condition that taxpayers would not be asked to fund an Olympics.
Organizers are confident that a new national government will be created later this month with support for the bid.
The IOC has granted both cities an unprecedented extension to Friday’s deadline to get all guarantees in order, but they are expected to be submitted ahead of the Evaluation Commission visits to Stockholm from March 12 to 16 and Italy from April 2 to 6.
In November citizens in Calgary voted against bidding for the Games, leaving the IOC with only two candidates. Four other bids took early exits from the race including Switzerland’s Sion after losing a referendum, Sapporo in Japan after deciding to bid for the 2030 edition instead, Graz in Austria when political support softened and finally Erzurum when the Turkish city was dismissed by the IOC for being too costly.
The IOC will elect a winner at its Session in Lausanne on June 24.
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.