The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) said Tuesday that it is committed to the three-city regional bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games it proposed in August, and having it organized by the government on a national level without a single city taking the lead.
CONI has been meeting with Mayors and officials from the three interested candidates – Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo – and Italy’s undersecretary for Sport Giancarlo Giorgetti, at the Palazzo Chigi in Rome since Monday trying to hammer out plans for a bid.
“We want to experiment with a widespread application from the territory,” Giorgetti told local media.
“So we need to fit different needs and sensitivities. The control inevitably belongs to the Government, because it is a candidature of Italy and not of a single city.”
Last month, however, Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino rejected the regional hosting idea that CONI President Giovanni Malagò said would be efficient and low-risk and in accordance with new International Olympic Committee (IOC) standards for host cities.
Sala had threatened to walk away from the project, but his position apparently softened Monday according to Secretary General of CONI Carlo Mornati who said Milan would be participating in the plans.
The regional concept, CONI says, can be delivered at a very low cost because no new venues will need to be constructed.
According to documents shared in August, Milan could host ice hockey, short track speed skating, figure skating and curling. A cluster near Milan contains venues for freestyle skiing, cross-country skiing, biathlon and snowboard.
In a Turin cluster, additional ice hockey matches would be hosted along with speed skating and Alpine skiing.
Near Cortina, skiing events would be staged along with sliding events and ski jumping.
The IOC has yet to comment on the viability of the nationally-lead concept – according to the Olympic Charter a single city must take responsibility for the project, and attach its name. Last month when asked by GamesBids.com, an IOC spokesperson couldn’t clarify a position on the proposal and instead said that they will continue to work with the three cities involved.
Even if approved, Italy’s bid will still face hurdles once plans are presented at the municipal level. Italian bids by Rome to host the 2020 and 2024 Summer Games both failed to reach the finish line when they were unable to rally full government support.
The IOC will announce a short-list of qualified candidates during the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic next month. Calgary, Stockholm, Sapporo in Japan and Erzurum in Turkey are other potential candidates.
The IOC will choose a winner September 2019 at an IOC Session scheduled to be held in Milan. The meeting could be moved if Italy remains in the 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.