Reporting from Milan, Italy – Latvia’s Prime Minister Arturs Krisjanis Karins pledged support to the Stockholm Åre 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid in a letter to the Latvian Olympic Committee, it was announced Friday. A key sliding venue in Latvia’s Sigulda is proposed to host bobsleigh, luge and skeleton at a possible Games in Sweden.
The use of the sliding track across the Baltic Sea and almost 700 km from the Swedish capital is supported by Olympic Agenda 2020, reforms that encourages the use of existing venues to reduce costs and increase the sustainability of the Games. Sweden does not have sliding facilities and decided against constructing the costly venue.
“It will be a unique opportunity to showcase our ability to organize sports competitions at the highest level and allow us to develop nationally important sports infrastructure,” the Prime Minister wrote in a letter delivered to the General Assembly of the Latvian Olympic Committee in Riga on March 29.
“Let us all work together to win the right to host the Olympic Games in 2026 at home.”
Sweden is seeking it’s first-ever Winter Olympics and has planned a regional bid that includes venues in Stockholm, Åre and Falun, along with Sigulda.
“One of the most anticipated events of the year will be the decision for the organizers of the 2026 Winter Olympics,” continued the Prime Minister.
“We have already done a lot, but we can definitely do even more so that in the 2026 Winter Olympics, in cooperation with Sweden, competitions in luge, skeleton and bobsleigh disciplines would take place in Sigulda.”
Richard Brisius, CEO of the Stockholm Åre 2026 bid said “Latvia has a fantastic record in sliding sports, and we’re delighted to collaborate to build a wide-reaching and truly innovative approach to delivering the most sustainable Olympic Games in history.”
Sigulda’s venue is world-class, having hosted the European and World Luge Championships four times in the last decade, and the opening race of the 2018-19 Bobsleigh World Cup last December.
Renovations for the track are already planned whether or not the Games are to be hosted in 2026, and land has been allocated for athlete accommodations.
Despite the positive news from Latvia, the Stockholm Åre bid faces an April 12 IOC deadline to provide other guarantees including Swedish government assurances that it will underwrite security, offer visa support and protect health and safety and human rights.
Sweden’s culture minister with a responsibility for sport Amanda Lind last month promised to provide an answer on any possible guarantees in time for the deadline, but Wednesday in Livigno, Italy IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said he hadn’t heard from the bid.
The IOC has indicated that it will allow flexibility with the deadlines, but on Wednesday Dubi didn’t confirm what would happens if Sweden misses this deadline.
On Monday in Venice the Italian Sport Secretary promised that the Prime Minister would sign all guarantees for the Milan-Cortina 2026 bid – Sweden’s only rival – before the IOC Evaluation Commission leaves Italy on Saturday. The IOC team arrived in Venice Monday and have traveled to Cortina d’Ampezzo and across the Dolomites to Milan.
Sweden’s bid also received support this week when they named 10 additional sport ambassadors including National Hockey league star Henrik Lundqvist who is a two-time Olympic ice hockey medalist and Olympic champion.
“As someone raised in Åre, I personally think it would be very cool to see an Olympic Games come to Åre,” the goaltender said.
In total, 49 ambassadors have been named since last November.
The IOC will elect a winning city June 24 in Lausanne, Switzerland.