As the International Olympic Committee (IOC) kicked off the first of two 2026 Olympic bid evaluations in Åre, Sweden on Monday, Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini offered his strongest words so far urging the government to fund the Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Games bid.
“I am convinced that the Olympics are an exceptional occasion not only for Lombardy and Veneto but for the whole of Italy, and a showcase for our incredible beauties,” influential Salvin said, according to RAI News.
“As for the commitment of the government,” he added, “I think it should be there.”
Last year the Italian government denied funding for a potential Olympics, forcing the regional governments to search for the investment elsewhere. The IOC, however, requires the government to provide essential services, security and visa support.
Italian bid officials and the IOC haven’t been clear about the revised expectations after both the Milan-Cortina and Stockholm-Åre bids missed a January deadline to provide the required assurances. IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said last week that his office will continue to accept new information from the bids up until the host city election in Lausanne, Switzerland June 24.
The rival Swedish bid is still seeking support from the national and city governments, but bid leaders say talks are progressing in the right direction.
The news was encouraging for the Governor of the Veneto region Luca Zaia who said “The statements made by Minister Salvini today are a good sign for the Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympics.”
“To win the candidacy it is fundamental that the Italian Government is fully committed.
“This willingness of the Government to find a solution goes in the direction that has always been hoped for and arrives at a crucial moment, on the arrival of the IOC Evaluation Commission.”
After spending this week in Sweden and departing Stockholm Saturday, the IOC delegation will travel to Italy from April 2 to 6.
Only the two candidates remain in a race that b egan last year with seven applicants. Calgary in Canada and Sion in Switzerland dropped from the race after losing public referendums, and Graz in Austria stepped back after a petition to hold a vote was accepted.
Sapporo in Japan delayed its campaign until 2030 to instead focus on recovery efforts after an earthquake in the region.
The IOC dismissed a bid from Erzurum in Turkey after it was found the project was too costly.
GamesBids.com will be reporting from Sweden this week, bringing you on-site coverage of the important Evaluation Commission visit. Follow us on Twitter @GamesBids or onFacebook to keep up with this event.