Officials in Sigulda, Latvia have provided support for the purchase of land near the proposed sliding venue for Stockholm’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid. The land has been designated for the construction of housing that could also be utilized as an Athlete’s Village for participants of bobsleigh, luge and skeleton during the Games.
Sigulda is about 580 km from the Swedish capital when using a ferry connection, and 50 km from Latvian capital Riga.
Situated on 5.5 hectares of land, the site is within walking distance of the track, and the housing will help meet the demand of the local population.
“The opportunity to participate in the bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, offering to organize the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitions in Sigulda, allows to take decisions on the renovation and upgrading of the Sigulda track and meeting Sigulda residents’ needs faster,” Latvian Olympic Committee President Aldonis Vrublevskis said.
Sweden does not have its own sliding facilities, and new International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules allow for venues to be situated across international borders if no other options are available. The IOC also frowns upon new venue construction specifically for the Games without a valid legacy need.
The Sigulda track has been a regular destination on the World Cup circuit, but due to its distance from Stockholm, it will require its own Olympic Village.
Stockholm 2026 officials had been negotiating with track officials since last December and Sigulda authorities adopted a resolution to support the plan in June, which includes an investment in track upgrades. Guarantees are expected to be submitted to the IOC in March 2019 with the winning 2026 host city elected in September 2019.
Stockholm faces challenges before it can hope to host the Games in 2026, including securing elusive government support before a January 2019 IOC deadline. The city’s Mayor already passed on the plan last year but upcoming elections this fall may give the Swedish Olympic Committee another shot at convincing politicians to get on board with the project.
The IOC will select a short list of qualified cities in October.
Stockholm could also face other international rivals during a campaign including Calgary in Canada, Erzurum in Turkey, Sapporo in Japan and a joint Italian bid including Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo – but these bids face hurdles of their own before they can move forward.