Stockholm 2026 Still Seeking Political Backing For Olympic Winter Games Bid

This week Sweden’s Capital Stockholm was named by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) among seven as a city interested in hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.  The letter-of-interest written by the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK), however, does not reflect the will of necessary government partners who will need to climb on board the project if the bid is to move forward to the final ballot.

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

Stockholm bidding to host 2026 Olympic Winter Games (Wikipedia Photo)

Last April Stockholm’s Mayor Karin Wanngård almost ended the bid by proclaiming that government support for the effort would not be forthcoming, but Swedish Olympic officials continued the project hoping new bidding rules and new efforts would change opinions.

Wanngård told Mitt i that the situation has not changed, and at this point she is unwilling to back the bid.  The “wide political majority” she expects before moving the project forward does not exist.

Sweden’s Alliance Party is in the ruling coalition and is opposed to an Olympic bid, but the Mayor said if that changes, something considered unlikely, she would reconsider her position.

A bid book with core guarantees is due into the IOC in January, with further guarantees required in April of next year.  Without the support of the municipal, federal and regional governments – the project would officially end.

“There are no hurdles in the application process, up until January next year when we provide our guarantees [to the IOC],” Stockholm 2026 CEO Richard Brisius told in PyeongChang February.

“That’s our drop-dead date,” he added, indicating that all stakeholders must be on board at that point.

The SOK are proposing that most ice events in 2026 be contested in the Capital, with snow events held in Falun and Åre.  This, officials say, will minimize the need for new construction and keep costs low.

Brisius says he hoped explaining the new strategy will help rally support for the bid, he said the SOK are “…gradually building more and more support in Sweden both in politics, in business, in the society in general, and of course in sports.

“That’s what happened over the last half year.  So we are in a much better position now than we were just before the summer for sure.  We’re positive.”

CEO Says Stockholm 2026 ‘Building Momentum’ Towards Winter Olympics Bid

Mitt i further reports that Liberals want to let the people of Stockholm have their input in the Olympic debate with a referendum, but the other parties have disagreed.

“It would be very strange to start a costly referendum on a question that does not support politics at the outset,” Wanngård responded.

Moderate Opposition leader Anna König Jerlmyr concurs, saying  “We do not see any reason for having a referendum right now.”

“A clear statement is needed from the government that they intend to back up a Swedish candidature in which so many municipalities are co-responsible. That is, with both financial means and the ability to coordinate a Winter Games,” she said.

SOK Chief Peter Reinebo played up Stockholm’s chances of winning a bid should it get the needed government support, he explained that the winner of the campaign will be a European City.

He identified Graz in Austria as a tough opponent and dismissed Erzurum in Turkey as a threat.

“Sapporo is most interested in 2030,” Reinebo told Swedish broadcaster SVT.

“Calgary has to renovate many of its old venues and there is Vancouver’s [recent Games in 2010].”

Other interested European bidders include Sion in Switzerland and either Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan or Turin in Italy.  Most cities are still seeking approvals from governments or the public, and each will wait for an IOC invitation to become a candidate when the IOC decides October 3.

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