Milan-Cortina 2026 Olympic Bid Readies To Capitalize On Calgary’s Plebiscite Loss

The joint Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid from Italy stands ready to take control after a plebiscite loss will almost certainly force Calgary in Canada to drop out of the race.

Italy has proposed a joint Milan and Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid (CONI Photo)

Italy has proposed a joint Milan and Cortina 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid (CONI Photo)

Over 56 percent of Calgarians voted against the Canadian bid Tuesday, and City Council is ready to suspend the bid next Monday after the Mayor admitted it was dead.

Attilio Fontana, President of the Lombardy Region representing Milan told La Sicilia Wednesday that despite the demise of Calgary, Italy’s bid is forging ahead.

“We remain more focused than ever on our goal.  The news coming from other parts of the world must not distract us,” he said.

“Milan and Lombardy with Cortina and Veneto continue their work to show how our territories and our potential are the best to reach the goal of the organization of the 2026 Winter Olympics.”

Meanwhile Italy’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini insisted that he won’t let a lack of government funding prevent the bid from moving forward.  Originally a three-city bid – Turin was excluded because the Mayor did not want Milan to take the lead role.  The government denied any funding once the bid became a two-city project instead.

Salvini, a supporter of the 2026 bid told Leggo.it “If private funds are not enough, we will make the last effort.”

“I think it is so fascinating for the project of the Italian Alpine Olympics that private funds are available.

“Of course, if they need a hand and they bring you a return of image, of positivity, that is worth it.

“I have seen the project, it is one of those with the lowest economic impacts because so much infrastructure is already there.”

On November 28 the bid will present at the Association of the National Olympic Committees (ANOC) Assembly in Tokyo.

Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) President Giovanni Malagò will be joined by Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala and Governor of Veneto Luca Zaia to present to the influential world sports organization.

Also joining the delegation will be Olympic Champion and eight-time Italian short track speed skating medalist Arianna Fontana.  She served as Italy’s flagbearer at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games.

Arianna Fontana was flag bearer for Italy at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. The short track speed skater has won eight Olympic medals, including one gold (Fontana/Twitter)

Arianna Fontana was flag bearer for Italy at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics. The short track speed skater has won eight Olympic medals, including one gold (Fontana/Twitter)

“I really hope I can bring the biggest event of world sport in our country,” Fontana said.

“I will soon have a meeting with Giovanni Malagò and I am sure we will think of a winning action.”

With Calgary’s exit, the Italian project will take the role of front runner, but will also need to confirm funding and secure guarantees in order to move forward.

Italy’s only remaining rival in the race is Stockholm.  The Capital is working to bring the Winter Games to Sweden for the first time, but the new coalition city government has refused to support the project with taxpayer money.  The Parliament has yet to organize following an election earlier this year and it seems unlikely that the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) can secure a set of guarantees before the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) January 11 deadline.

If all bids fail, the IOC will need to find another strategy to secure a 2026 Winter Games host city.  They’ve admitted, there is no plan ‘B’.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-nominated journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil

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