The Latvian government Tuesday adopted a resolution that would allow a sliding track in the town of Sigulda to step in and host Bobsleigh, Luge and Skeleton should Stockholm win its bid to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
Sweden doesn’t have a sliding track, and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the international sliding federations have said that they’d prefer host cities leverage existing tracks instead of building additional venues that are expensive and challenging to maintain. Stockholm 2026 has been negotiating with the Latvian Olympic Committee, Sigulda and the track operator since December 2017, AFP reported.
The Swedish Capital has already expressed interest to the IOC in hosting the Games but still seeks government approval to move the project forward. Stockholm’s Mayor said she cannot support the bid as long as members of the ruling coalition government are opposed, but proponents hope upcoming elections this fall will change that.
The IOC expects delivery of the bid book, along with government guarantees, in January 2019.
“That’s our drop-dead date,” Stockholm 2026 CEO Richard Brisius told GamesBids.com in PyeongChang in February, indicating that all stakeholders must be on board at that point.
Stockholm’s bid rival Graz in Austria is also planning to hold sliding events across a border in Königssee, Germany. Calgary could upgrade its existing track or instead hold the events in Whistler where the Vancouver 2010 races were held. Sapporo is considering constructing a new track, though the facilities in Nagano are available.
The Sigulda track was built in 1986 and is situated about 50 km from Latvian capital Riga which is accessible to Stockholm by ferry or a one-hour flight. The facility has hosted several championships and regularly accomodates Luge, Skeleton and two-man Bobsleigh events – but upgrades will be required to facilitate the four-man event.
“We already have plenty of experience with rebuilding and renovation works,” Dainis Dukurs, the director of the Sigulda track, told new agency LETA.
Full details would be worked out should the Games be awarded to Stockholm when the IOC votes for a winner in September 2019.
Erzurum in Turkey and a joint bid from Italy are the others in contention for a total of six, after a Swiss entry from Sion was forced to withdraw upon losing a referendum Sunday.