Milan will remain as a potential Italian candidate for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, the city’s Mayor said Thursday.
Mayor Giuseppe Sala said during an interview on RAI3 Italian television that “We have not pulled out, but I will not allow Milan’s dignity to be trampled upon.”
On August 1, the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) announced that it plans to launch a three-city bid by Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo to host the Games in 2026. CONI President Giovanni Malagò had said the joint bid among previous rivals made the most sense, and would best fit the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) new bidding model that encourages efficiency and sustainability.
That decision immediately prompted Sala to write a letter to CONI indicating that his city would no longer be involved in governing the bid, but would instead only be available to host some events, if necessary.
Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino also shunned a shared bid, explaining that the city “will not be a crutch to other cities.”
Sala said Thursday that for months Malagò had said that the Italian bid would be focused on Milan.
“Then,” he said, “twenty-four hours before the choice he explained to me that it was not possible to go on like this for political reasons.
“I think [the three city joint bid] is a botched solution. I asked for a meeting immediately and I was told that we will see each other in September, so let’s wait.
“Together with the other mayors we’ll sit down and rebuild.”
The CONI General Assembly is due to meet again September 10, only a few weeks before the IOC is expected to announce a shortlist of qualified cities that will be invited to the candidature phase.
According to the Olympic Charter, a Games must have a single lead host city, though events can be held elsewhere – even across international borders. It is not clear whether the IOC will permit the three-city proposal unless a single city is named.
When asked by GamesBids.com, an IOC spokesperson was unclear, explaining that “the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) has informed the IOC that its National Council [August 1] selected Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin to continue working with the IOC in the Dialogue Stage of the Candidature Process for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.
“The IOC will continue to work with CONI and the three cities to provide expertise and to assist in the development of plans in line with the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 and The New Norm, which have shaped the Candidature Process 2026 to ensure that projects meet the long-term needs of host cities, regions and countries.”
Milan Withdraws From Italian 2026 Olympic Bid Amid CONI Approval of Three-City Joint Project
The Italian trio remains in the race along with Calgary in Canada, Swedish Capital Stockholm, Sapporo in Japan and Turkish city Erzurum. Each city faces obstacles moving forward – including a November plebiscite for Calgary. Two cities – Sion in Switzlerland and Graz in Austria – have already dropped from the race.
Bid books and guarantees are due in January and the IOC will elect a winner September 2019 at a Session scheduled to be held in Milan. However, if an Italian bid remains in the race, the final vote may have to be moved outside of the country.
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.