According to a feasibility study delivered by an Austrian University Thursday, the Graz 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid is “possible without much risk.”
The estimated 1.137 billion euro (USD $1.3 million) Olympic project would rely on existing venues, infrastructure and expertise and would need no taxpayer funding. The report claimed, however, that public investment would be needed to provide security services and any additional capital infrastructure.
Graz replaced Innsbruck as Austria’s 2026 bid after the latter was defeated in a general referendum last year. The replacement city in Styria could face its own referendum now that Austria’s Communist Party (KPO) has claimed it collected more than the required 10,000 signatures on a petition and plans to request a vote soon.
The feasibility study was launched in January after Graz revealed its intentions to enter the race, and the city confirmed it in March with a letter of interest to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
“To elaborate such a professional study within such a short period shows on the one hand the high competence of the institutions and persons, on the other hand the importance of the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games for Graz, Styria and Austria,” Graz 2026 Managing Director Markus Pichler said.
Planners expect the Games would provide a major boost to tourism with an estimated 1.28 million Olympic-related overnight stays, and the creation of the equivalent of 24,300 full-time jobs.
The conservative budget, according to the study, includes a 100 million euros contingency – and analysts identified a maximum public risk of 58 million euros that would be more than offset by expected tax revenues of 665 million euros.
The study also noted the high value of the international exposure the Games would provide.
“Graz could thus position itself on the world map in the long term and get a priceless advertising value” Pichler said.
“It’s about the development of plans and ideas.
“Above all, we should bring more people, especially our children, to the sport. Sport should become more central to our society. We also want to show how cosmopolitan our country, in which several cultures and religions live together, is.”
ÖOC Secretary General Peter Mennel added “The financial assumptions are completely traceable, realistic and with previous organizational budgets – as that from Vancouver 2010 – quite comparable.
“Most important finding – there will be no major losses, because no large investments are required. Even if you start from the worst case in all areas, the risk is manageable.
“In contrast, there are many positive factors and opportunities for the region. Graz, Styria and Austria would benefit from Olympic Games sustainably – for decades to come. Now it is up to the politicians to rate the study accordingly.”
The study will now be examined by Economic and Tourism Counselor Barbara Eibinger-Miedl and Sports and Finance Councilor Anton Lang before it can be endorsed by the government.
Last week IOC officials visited Graz where IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch said the Austrian city was a “strong candidate” in the race.
The IOC will develop of shortlist of qualified cites to move forward with in October. Bid books, along with guarantees are due beginning in January next year and the IOC will elect a winner in September 2019.
Earlier this month Sion in Switzerland dropped from the race after losing a referendum, leaving bids from Calgary in Canada, Erzurum in Turkey, Sapporo in Japan, Stockholm in Sweden and a trio of cities – Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin – in Italy, to rival Graz.