Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala is demanding that his city stand out as lead of Italy’s proposed three-city joint bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics. In a letter last week to the Secretary of the Council of Minister for Sport Giancarlo Giorgetti, Sala insisted that Milan be named host city of the nationally organized Olympic bid that is set to also involve clusters in Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) had been asking for the Mayors to confirm plans set out in discussions early last week that would lead to a low-cost, sustainable project shared among the three cities. The plans were to be forwarded to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) once agreed upon.
Sala wrote that Milan “must be the most visible or, at least, the first” when the bid is named.
He also claimed in the letter, according to ANSA, that Milan was capable of leading the project based on its successful hosting of Expo 2015.
But Chiara Appendino, Mayor of 2006 Olympic host city Turin, has been opposed to playing a supporting role to Milan during the Games. Instead Appendino reportedly agreed to the conditions of the three-city deal on Saturday.
In August Sala had threatened to walk away from the project completely when the three-city joint bid was announced, but his position later softened.
During meetings among the national government, CONI and the three mayors held in Rome last week, a consensus for an unprecedented national Games without a single lead city seemed to have been reached. Approval for such a concept would have to be given by the IOC that currently requires a single city to be responsible for hosting the Games, according to its charter.
That application was to be sent this week, but Milan’s reluctance to move forward with those plans have jeopardized Italy’s bid. The IOC is set to announce a short list of candidates October 8.
“The words of the Mayor of Milan, Giuseppe Sala, regarding the Italian candidature to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games, are once again not aligned with what emerged in the recent meeting at Palazzo Chigi,” said Simone Valente, Undersecretary of the Council Presidency for Relations with Parliament and Head of Sport for the 5 Star Movement Party.
“Sala, demanding that the Olympic brand falls exclusively or in a more visible way on Milan, effectively formalizes an unsustainable claim for all those who up until now had worked with great commitment to a unified project,” Valente added, according to La Stampa.
“It is not possible to proceed when certain conditions proposed by CONI and the Government are not supported by a city as important as Milan because of the declarations of its Mayor.”
Giorgetti is now struggling to get the bid back on track.
“I’m a realist,” he said,”I know the rules of politics and so I understand that putting together so many heads and parties is not easy, but we’re trying.”
The tension in Italy represents yet another blow to the IOC’s 2026 Olympic bid process. Earlier Monday Sapporo, Japan dropped its bid so the city can instead focus on recovery efforts following an August 6 earthquake in the region that claimed 41 lives. Calgary faces a daunting referendum on November 13 and Stockholm is struggling to secure elusive government support for its plans.
Erzurum in Turkey, an outsider that could face economic and security risks, rounds out the list of interested cities. Earlier this year Sion in Switzerland lost a referendum, ending its chances, and Graz in Austria dropped out due to political indifference.
The IOC will elect the host city September 11, 2019 at a meeting scheduled in Milan.