Italy’s three-city bid concept proposed to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games appears to have ended after the undersecretary of the Council Presidency Giancarlo Giorgetti announced during a Senate hearing that the government would no longer support the project prepared by the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
But there is a chance the project could be revived as a Milan-Cortina joint bid, excluding 2006 Olympic host city Turin that was originally proposed as part of the concept. Giorgetti has reportedly agreed to consider this option.
CONI had developed a nationally fronted regional project using venues in Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo that was said to be low-cost and sustainable and utilized all existing venues.
The bid “died here” Giorgetti said, according to Askanews.
“I believe that something as important as the Olympic bid must provide a spirit of sharing that I have not traced between the three cities,” he added.
“This is why the government does not believe that an application as formulated may have further course. This type of proposal has no government support, it’s dead.”
The mayors involved in the three-city plan could not agree to terms ahead of a deadline set to notify the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Wednesday due to Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala’s demand that his city be named to lead the project. Turin refused to play a supporting role.
But officials in Cortina, hosts of the 1956 Winter Games, had not opposed the Milan centred concept, and a plan ‘b’ was immediately struck with CONI to instead propose the joint Milan-Cortina plan to the IOC. That application will reportedly occur Wednesday when officials visit the IOC in Lausanne, but absent government support that would have to be secured at a later date.
A joint statement by regional leaders representing Milan and Cortina read “at this point it is unthinkable to throw everything out the window. The application must be saved, so we are willing to take this challenge together. If Turin is called out, and we are sorry, at this point there remain two realities, which are called Lombardy-Veneto.”
Officials, who had previously anticipated the two-city option, have already modified the master plan to exclude Turin. Hockey and speedskating would be moved to Milan and Alpine skiing would be shifted to Cortina.
The tension in Italy represents yet another blow to the IOC’s 2026 Olympic bid process. On Monday Sapporo, Japan dropped its bid so the city can instead focus on recovery efforts following an August 6 earthquake in the region that claimed 41 lives. Calgary faces a daunting referendum on November 13 and Stockholm is struggling to secure elusive government support for its plans.
Erzurum in Turkey, an outsider that could face economic and security risks, rounds out the list of interested cities. Earlier this year Sion in Switzerland lost a referendum, ending its chances, and Graz in Austria dropped out due to political indifference.
In October, the IOC will release a short list of qualified candidates that could appear on the final election ballot.
The IOC will elect the host city September 11, 2019 at a meeting scheduled to take place in Milan. The meeting may have to be moved, however, as the Olympic Charter prohibits countries from hosting the meeting if it has a candidate in the Olympic bid race.
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.