Stockholm 2026 Clings To Winter Olympic Bid, Promoting Zero-Tax Concept To City

Swedish Olympic Commitee (SOK) officials have launched a campaign to convince Stockholm’s City Council and constituents that a 2026 Winter Olympics can be staged with minimal risk and no taxpayer costs.

Stockholm investigating possible 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid (Wikipedia Photo)

Stockholm pursuing possible 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid (Wikipedia Photo)

“Our concept is unique and we can provide world-class games at no cost to Stockholm’s taxpayers,” SOK Chairman Mats Årjes insisted during a press conference Thursday.

The renewed push comes just days after an agreement to form a coalition city government between the Green and Alliance parties excluded plans to provide funding for the Olympic bid, putting the project in jeopardy.  The Social Democrats, who were part of the ruling coalition before an election last month, were the only party supporting Stockholm 2026.

The city’s previous Mayor passed on the bid over 18 months ago, explaining that other parties and levels of government were not interested in pursuing an Olympics.  But the SOK pushed forward, streamlining plans with hopes that it can leverage new International Olympic Committee (IOC) reforms to deliver a bid that politicians could back.

The IOC approved those plans on October 9 when it accepted candidatures from Stockholm along with Calgary in Canada and a joint bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.

The SOK will have until an IOC January 11 bid book deadline to sell the bid to City Council and secure other levels of government support.  Without that buy-in, the bid will need to be cancelled.

“Our assessment is that these conditions actually fit Sweden like a glove,” Årjes  said.

“And when it comes to finances, it is incredibly important to emphasise one more time that we have not approached the notion of tax-based funding or any financial guarantees whatsoever for implementation, whether from Stockholm or any other municipality which has considered hosting competitions during the Olympic Games.”

Årjes added that an economic guarantee for national security will be required, but those costs are likely to be offset by tax revenues associated with hosting the Games.

“We think this is a unique opportunity for Sweden, as the first country, to get the opportunity with the new conditions that allow us to spread the events in a completely different way than before.

“This is done by competitions in our country Sweden, but also by using facilities in another country and in this case Latvia (where in Sugulda an existing sliding track will be used to stage bobsleigh, luge and skeleton).”

“Our goal may sound a little extreme, but we want our model to be an example for future Olympic Games. And perhaps, years from now, people will be talking about the ‘Stockholm model’ or the ‘Swedish model’.” Actually, we are also the nation in the world with the most winter medals that has yet to host the Olympic Games.”

Stockholm 2026 outlined a plan where 90 percent of the venues exist, and only an ice rink and ski venue will need to be added.

Luge and Bobsleigh track in Sigulda, Lativa proposed for potential Stockholm 2026 Olympic Winter Games (Latvia Tourism Photo)

According to SOK’s CEO Peter Reinebo, Swedish venues will be shared among Åre, where Alpine events could be stage, and Falun where Ski Jumping is proposed to be held.

Many events would be hosted in the heart of Stockholm, including Cross Country skiing and biathlon.

Bid CEO Richard Brisius estimated a budget that includes 13.1 billion SEK (USD $1.454 billion) for operational costs with a 1 billion SEK (USD $111 million) contingency.  The cost for security would be about 3 billion SEK (USD $333 million).

The IOC will contribute USD $925 million in cash and in-kind services to the winning host city.

According to Sport Bladet, Brisius said of the contingency planning “It’s brand new, but it’s the best way to control a budget.”

He added that the revenue estimation was extremely conservative and accounted for low ticket sales and sponsorship revenue.  Other sources of investment funds would be raised privately.

Reinebo suggested that two options are available for the new ski facilities, at Bisslinge or Hamra located in Botkyrka.

Ice hockey would be played at AXA Sports Center in Södertälje, with Ericsson Globe – where renovations are due to be completed in 2021 – as the main arena.

Stockholm’s 2026 Olympic Bid Vows To Carry On Amid Loss Of City Support

Reinebo said “Tele 2 Arena will be the venue for figure skating and short track speed skating. It is expected to be the Olympic figure skating competition to bring in the largest audience.”

“There is a great deal of interest in figure skating.”

The new ice arena as a legacy will be used for ice hockey, figure skating, curling and skating.

The IOC will elect a winning city in Lausanne, Switzerland near the end of June 2019.

Calgary is set to face a likely decisive plebiscite on November 13, and has budgeted CAD $5.2 billion (USD $4 billion) for a project that includes a new arena, field house and upgrades to several existing facilities – including a contingency of over CAD $1 billion.

The joint Milan and Cortina bid was organized just last month and no detailed budget figures have been announced.  The Italian government has said it will not provide any funding for the project but will lend “political support.”

It is expected that funding in Italy will come from regional governments and the private sector.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning 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