The Swiss Cabinet Wednesday confirmed its request for Parliament to approve proposed funding for Sion’s 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid and to contribute CHF 994 Million (USD $1 billion) if the city is chosen by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to host the Games.
The government indicated initial support of Sion’s bid last October and after positive consultation with the Cantons and stakeholders involved, confirmed a decision to endorse the project.
The upper and lower chambers of parliament will still need to debate and approve the needed funding later this year.
President of Swiss Olympic and Sion 2026 Jürg Stahl said the decision by the Federal Council was a “very strong signal given today to the Sion 2026 candidature.”
“The support shown during the consultation phase shows that the Games project in Switzerland will have an impact across the country, far beyond sport,” Stahl said.
“Many participants in the proceedings share the Federal Council’s view that the Winter Games are an opportunity to show the world the diversity, values and dynamism of Switzerland.
“We will continue our very cautious and rigorous approach to risk management, according to the usual practice in Switzerland.”
The total amount includes CHF 8 million to be used towards the campaign to compete against international cities to win the bid.
Breakdown of proposed funding (Source: Swiss Government)
- 8 million francs for the application fees;
- 787 million francs for the organizational budget (including a reserve of 215 million francs);
- 40 million extra for projects to ensure a lasting legacy to the Winter Games;
- 30 million francs for financial support for sports facilities required for the Winter Games;
- 44 million francs or 20% as a contribution to additional costs;
- 85 million francs for federal security organizations such as the army, fedpol, the Border Guard Corps and the Intelligence Service of the Confederation.
Other interested cities include Calgary in Canada, Erzurum in Turkey, Graz in Austria, Sapporo in Japan, Stockholm in Sweden and a combined bid from Cortina d’Ampezzo, Turin and Milan in Italy.
The IOC will elect the winner September 2019.
The news gives a much needed boost to Sion’s bid campaign as it faces a perilous referendum in the Canton of Valais on June 10 that could bring Swiss Olympic dreams to an abrupt halt. On Tuesday a poll across the Canton revealed that 58 percent would probably vote against funding for the project.
Stahl said Wednesday “We are in the middle of a very tough campaign and it would obviously be nice to be in the lead, even in random polls. This result is very useful as it shows that we have to keep fighting for our project and leave no stone unturned.”
“It is not all dire at all,” he added.
“I also hear a lot of positive comments from people both in the street and on social media who understand that the Games concept of Sion 2026 is full of opportunities for them and free of major risks.
“We never said that it would be easy, but I am convinced that with a strong final stretch, we can win this race on June 10.”
Meanwhile Swiss broadcaster SRF reported that the government of Bern, a Canton that could host venues for a Sion 2026 Olympics, is investigating the leak of confidential information regarding higher estimated security costs in Bern for the 2026 Games.
Bern officials are denying that they deliberately suppressed the information from the public so that it would not negatively impact public opinion ahead of the June 10 referendum.
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.