Reporting form Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy – Italy’s Secretary of Sport said Monday that the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid won’t need to face a challenging public referendum, even as the national government has agreed to guarantee security costs for the mega-event.
“I believe that people in the region strongly back this bid, citizens support this bid, and for this reason local administration, regional and Italian governments, support this bid,” Secretary Giancarlo Giorgetti told reporters at a press conference in Venice as he sat among bid leaders and members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission for the 2026 Winter Games.
“It doesn’t need a referendum,” he added, “there is so large a majority of people that support it.
“I’m sure future local administrations will support this bid.”
Earlier Giorgetti announced that the government would commit 415 million euros (USD $465 million) to the bid and guarantee human rights, visa support, health and safety and the hefty security costs.
The commitment of government guarantees for an Olympic Games usually raises concerns among taxpayers who have seen infrastructure budgets skyrocket during preparations for the event. The Sochi 2014 Games were said to have cost USD $51 billion because they needed to build most venues.
The IOC claims new Games reforms that ensure cost-efficiency and sustainability will prevent overruns in the future, and say that 80 percent of proposed venues for both 2026 bids are temporary or already exist.
But already three of seven applicants have dropped out of this 2026 race due in part to a loss of confidence in the IOC and fear of economic risks. Calgary in Canada and Sion in Switzerland cancelled their bids after the public voted against them. Graz in Austria abandoned plans to vie for the Games when a petition to hold a referendum was approved.
Nine straight referendums in recent years – eight of them across Europe – resulted in losses for the bid involved
Italy is competing with Stockholm-Åre for the Games and last month the IOC reported that only 55 percent of those polled in Sweden support the bid. A year ago when Italy was proposing a broader project that included Turin, an IOC poll revealed 81 percent backed the bid across Italy.
The IOC commissioned a new poll in Italy earlier this year and will announce the results Saturday (April 6) in Milan when a joint press conference with the bid team will conclude the Evaluation Commission visit.
Strong support, along with the guarantee letter that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte is expected to sign Friday (April 5) will give Italy a significant edge in the race over Swedish rivals who still seek a firm commitment from the government. News on that is expected ahead of an April 12 IOC deadline.
On Tuesday, the Latvian government is expected to sign a letter confirming its commitment and guarantees to support the Town of Sigulda to host the bobleigh, luge and skeleton events at its sliding track.
The bid revealed its new tagline Monday, appropriately “Dreaming Together” as Italy jumps into the lead towards its second Winter Olympics in 20 years. The IOC votes for a winner June 24.
In Venice, Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malagò denied accusations from an Italian reporter who said that he was pandering to the IOC, and using moral suasion to try to get the public onside with the bid.
“I’ve always been optimistic, this is my nature,” he said.
“Yes I feel sincerely optimistic, but this is due to the way I am.”
The IOC team traveled to 1956 Games host Cortina d’Ampezzo Monday evening before setting off on a mountain venue tour Tuesday morning that will continue to Antholz, Cavalese, Livigno and Bormio. They will arrive in Milan on Thursday for another day of venue inspections then two days in meetings to review the bid book.
The Evaluation Commission will be welcomed Friday evening for the official dinner at Villa Necchi in Milan.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from Italy this week until April 7, bringing you on-site coverage of the important Evaluation Commission visit. Follow us on Twitter @GamesBids or on Facebook to keep up with this event.
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.