The final vote for the winner of the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games host city bid will be held in Lausanne, Switzerland in September 2019 instead of in Milan, Italy as previously announced.
On September 15 last year the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded Milan the right to host the 134th IOC Session – an important policy-setting meeting that attracts high-level dignitaries, athletes, royalty and the attention of the international media. The host city of the 2026 Olympics will be awarded at that event, and possibly the winner of the 2024 Youth Olympic Games bid.
However, the Olympic Charter states that in order to avoid a perceived conflict-of-interest, the host nation of the Session can not also be a candidate for a Games that are being awarded at that same meeting.
On Wednesday, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) along with Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala presented a joint Milan and Cortina 2026 Games bid to the IOC at the organization’s Lausanne headquarters.
According to Italian newspaper La Stampa, the IOC advised CONI of the required venue change – and Lausanne was named as the new site of the Session.
An IOC spokesperson told GamesBids.com “for reasons of fairness if Italy is appointed as a candidate for the Olympic Winter Games 2026 in Buenos Aires, then the final vote will not happen in Milan.”
That leaves the door open for the Session to still occur in Milan in the unlikely case that the IOC cuts the Italian candidate from the shortlist in October. The joint Milan and Cortina bid still seeks government assurances for the project that are due in January.
Sala had been campaigning to keep the Session in his city, claiming that contracts and services had already been paid.
At the Lima Session last year, plans outlined by CONI President Giovanni Malago were impressive and outlined a compact plan with La Scala Opera House hosting the Opening Ceremony, the Milan Congress Centre for the Session and the Principe di Savoia Hotel as accommodations for IOC members.
At the time, Sala only hinted that Milan may consider a bid for the Games – and he admitted that goal was in conflict with the plans for the Session, and a “modification” may have to take place.
The next IOC Session will be the 133rd and is to be hosted in Buenos Aires in October, alongside the Youth Olympic Games. The shortlist of candidates to host the Games in 2026 will be announced at that meeting.
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.