A poll released Friday has revealed that residents across Valais Canton in Switzerland are warming to the idea of a 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid in Sion.
The survey conducted by M.I.S Trend Institute showed that 46 percent of voters would vote ‘yes’ to supporting an Olympic bid when a canton-wide referendum is held on June 10. A further 47 percent would vote ‘no’ to the project and 7 percent are still undecided. With a margin of error of 3 percent, it is impossible to say which side is ahead.
Those results are better than numbers released in a poll during the PyeongChang 2018 Olympics in February when 59 percent of of those surveyed said they were either against or “quite against” the bid and 16 percent were “quite in favour,” with only 20 percent in favour.
A majority vote of ‘yes’ in the referendum is required to release the CHF100 million ($99.9 million) needed to fund the project; a vote of ‘no’ will end Switzerland’s bid.
A further nation-wide referendum may be required if Swiss Parliament approves the motion for a vote later this year.
The Swiss government has already approved CHF1 billion funding to support the Games if they are won. Plans have revealed that venues will be spread across cantons Valais, Vaud, Bern and Fribourg using existing infrastructure.
According to SwissInfo.ch supporters indicated international visibility, boosting tourism and renewal of infrastructure as the key advantages. Those against said fears of budget overruns and debts, and potential negative effects on the environment are the main concerns.
The improved results come after weeks of public consultation and meetings to inform residents about the project. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has helped by providing resources for the meetings to answer questions of constituents.
Pro-bid groups have also helped by organizing rallies and other awareness events.
Calgary in Canada is also considering entering the 2026 bid race and is preparing for a non-binding plebiscite to measure public support later this year. A city council sub-committee was formed last month to prepare the plebiscite question and to organize a public engagement process. City Councilors will vote whether they wish to move the project forward at a vote in June.
The IOC will invite qualified bids to continue with the process at its Session at the beginning of October in Buenos Aires and the host city will be elected September 2019.
Other interested bidders are Graz in Austria where an opposing political party is petitioning to force a referendum; Sapporo in Japan where a survey will help measure public support; Erzurum in Turkey, Stockholm in Sweden and a possible joint bid between Cortina d’Ampezzo, Turin and Milan in Italy.
Innsbruck in Austria dropped out of the 2026 race last year after losing a city-wide referendum when 53.35 percent voted against plans.