French Alps could share speedskating with Netherlands or Italy as 2030 Winter Olympics bid plans develop


Thialf skating oval in Heerenveen, Netherlands (Photo: @Thialf/X)
Thialf skating oval in Heerenveen, Netherlands (Photo: @Thialf/X)

The bid to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Nice and the French Alps could could also include a speedskating venue in the Netherlands, Italy or elsewhere the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said Monday.

Meeting with reporters ahead of the IOC’s Future Host Commission’s visit to the region beginning April 22, Executives outlined the progress of discussions with their preferred candidate for the 2030 edition and their goals for the five day tour of facilities in France.

“There are a number of different options [to stage long track speed skating] in French Alps,” IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi said during the online call.

“One is to have temporary ice surface or the use of an existing site abroad and there are a number of different potential candidates.”

“There is a possibility in Italy, but there are other neighboring countries that can be considered, of course we’ve got the Netherlands. You should never forget the Netherlands when we’re speaking of speed skating.”

The Netherlands have dominated Olympic speed skating, leading all nations with a total of 133 medals including 48 gold. The Thialf Oval in Heerenveen regularly hosts national and world championships with a capacity of 12,500.

Italy is hosting the Milan-Cortina Winter Games in 2026 and will stage speed skating on a temporary surface at the Fiera Milano Exhibition Center in Milan, the fifth largest such facility in the world. The plans have been approved and guaranteed and could be replicated four years later if necessary.

Dubi said the bid committee is looking at “a number of options abroad” but urged against any speculation on a potential decision that may not come soon.

“[It’s] nothing that has to be decided quickly,” he said, hinting that a solution could come after the region is elected to host when the IOC votes July 24 in Paris.

If France chooses to stage the event across the border it could be the first time a Winter Olympics holds events in more than one country. Italy currently plans to stage all 2026 events within its borders, but if the Eugenio Monti sliding track currently under construction in Cortina d’Ampezzo is not completed in time, organizers will likely stage the event in nearby Switzerland or Germany.

Overall, Dubi said his team was satisfied with plans, explaining “we’re not only good with the venues but we’re also good with the operators of the venues and the organizers of a number of events.”

“We have the great advantage of French Alps 2030 is their capability to host which has been demonstrated over time, and time again, with World Cups and World Championships very regularly.”

Missing Guarantees

Officials downplayed concerns that guarantees due at the end of March are not yet signed.

“We have the outline of the guarantees,” Dubi said.

“We know that those guarantees will be provided, there is no doubt about that – we’ve been given commitments at the various highest levels – there is no problem whatsoever.

“It’s not a matter of not having the guarantees, it’s a matter of signing the guarantees.

“It may take a few days more than planned.”

Guarantees need to come from various levels of governments in host regions that cover venue use, security and other services. Lodging and marketing rights agreements are also required.

Dubi said his team is confident the French Alps can deliver because “France can rely on a political and administrative sector which has been developed for the Paris Games now and obviously will be transferred to the French Alps candidacy and for the 2030 Winter Games.”

“This is something that allows us to build on a lot of strategic and detailed analysis and that knowledge is easily transferrable.”

Public Support

Dubi said the bid has “very strong support from the population” that sits at just under 70 percent, referring to an October 2023 survey commissioned by one of the joint bid regions Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

At the time French Olympics opposition group NO JO criticized the poll, describing the wording of the question ambiguous and the small sample size over a limited region insufficient. Instead the group is calling for a referendum.

The question (translated from French) read [are you] “in favor or not of organizing the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in an environmentally friendly and climate-friendly way?”

The French bid and government officials have said a referendum is not necessary. The IOC only requests a referendum as part of the bid process if it is required by law in the hosting region. NO JO opposes the bid due to environmental and climate concerns and believes money should instead be spent on social projects such as housing and public health.

When asked if the IOC had plans to address these concerns during the upcoming visit, IOC Future Olympic Games Hosts Director Jacqueline Barrett said “We’re always open to meeting with anybody if there is a request, it needs to come through the local organization, the French Alps, if that comes up there is always an opportunity that we can do that.”

Barrett confirmed that there has been no such request.

“The whole point is we want to ensure the Games work for the regions, that they are aligned with local development plans so that the Games do result in a very positive impact for the region both before and after the Games,” she added.

The Future Host Commissions visit to France follows a similar trip to Salt Lake City last week to evaluate the preferred candidate for the 2034 Winter Games. The Commission will prepare detailed reports for both bids to be used by the IOC Executive Board to decide in June whether to recommend them for election.

The final vote is expected to take place at the IOC Session July 24 in Paris just days before the opening of the Games.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.

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