For the second successive edition, the bidding contest for a Winter Olympic Games has been reduced to a two-horse race for the 2026 occasion. Here, SportsPro weighs up the Swedish bid of Stockholm-Åre and the joint Italian attempt from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has been here before – 4 years in the past, in truth. In 2015, an anemic bidding contest that started with six fascinated events noticed Beijing narrowly beat off competition from Almaty in Kazakhstan to secure website hosting rights to the 2022 Winter Olympic Games. As the race for the subsequent edition in 2026 comes right down to the twine, it’s for a case of records repeating itself. If the IOC had harbored hopes that the modern bidding contest may have proved altogether greater heated than its predecessor, the overall urge for food for staging the Games has proved lukewarm, to mention the least. Last April, a promising slate of seven bidders registered their hobby in staging the 2026 occasion, with each of these towns entering the IOC’s newly created ‘Dialogue Stage’ – a new phase of the bidding method brought as a part of the committee’s Agenda 2020 reforms. But, as it transpired, maximum could fall at the primary hurdle.
Of the seven involved events, the Swiss town of Sion changed into first to withdraw from the jogging after a June referendum noticed residents inside the canton of Valais vote against liberating public funding for the bid. The following month, the government overseeing the Austrian city of Graz’s idea followed healthy after failing to secure the essential political backing. By September, the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) had dropped its pursuit on behalf of Sapporo and elected to cognizance alternatively on the 2030 Games, even as in October Erzurum in Turkey become removed from the competition by using the IOC because of issues over certain technical and logistical components of the bid. Erzurum’s elimination left the Canadian town of Calgary, the Swedish capital of Stockholm and a joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo to development to the next level of the bidding method. Three could quickly come to be two. In November, amid reviews that the Argentine capital of Buenos Aires changed into mulling a remaining-minute push that might have visible the Winter Games head to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time, residents of Calgary voted towards a bid for the Games, with fifty-six. Four consistent with cent opposing plans that have been handiest narrowly accepted by using the city council a month in advance. The result of the Calgary vote marked the ninth immediately referendum defeat for proposed Olympic bids, further underlining great concerns over the increasing scale and cost of the Games. Crucially, it left the IOC – which intends to award website hosting rights for the 2026 version all through its 134th Session in June – facing the unwanted prospect of but every other two-horse race. What’s in the bid books? Sifting thru the hyperbole and lofty promises that commonly adorn Olympic bid dossiers, it’s far clean that the IOC is presented with two proposals ostensibly devised to fulfill its Agenda 2020 requirements of sustainability, legacy and transparency. Having dropped out of the running for the 2022 Winter Games, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) returns with a bid that has been broadened out from its authentic Stockholm-simplest billing to encompass the famed ski resort of Åre. It is likewise a bid that calls for no direct taxpayer investment by any means, raising the prospect of a first entirely privately funded Olympics. “What we are imparting now is not a concept that developed over the last year or years even – it evolved over many, a few years,” says Richard Brisius, who is spearheading the Swedish effort as leader govt of the Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid committee. “Suddenly we see that the stars are aligned with wherein we are in phrases of improvement as a country, in sentences of infrastructure development.
“We consider in what the Winter Games can do, both for Sweden as a country, however, perhaps extra importantly, also for the Olympic motion. We trust it’s at a vital point and we hope that we will deliver what every person wishes within the new truth of the IOC now.” With a modest Games concept grounded in monetary pragmatism, the Swedish bid team has a predicted delivery price range of SEK13.1 billion (US$1.454 billion), with a SEK1 billion SEK (US$111 million) contingency. Some US$925 million of that total will be supplied using the IOC in the shape of cash and in-kind services. Of the part of the price range blanketed by using local organizers, around 1/2 might come through domestic sponsorship sales, while the rest would be generated via ticketing, products, and different revenue streams. Proposed venues – lots of which might be either already built or had been earmarked for renovations no matter whether or not the Games are received – include the Friends Arena, a 65,000-seat multipurpose, retractable roof stadium where the key ceremonies might be held, and the Tele2 Arena, some other retractable roof venue that might level the skating competitions. Elsewhere, the Ericsson Globe would house the ice hockey tournaments, and most alpine activities might take place in Åre, host of this year’s FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Falun, positioned more or less 220km northwest of Stockholm, might host Nordic competitions including move-united states of America snowboarding and ski jumping, even as the sliding sports of bobsleigh, luge and skeleton would take area at a present facility within the Latvian lodge of Sigulda, just throughout the Baltic Sea. “On top of that we have the second one-fine public shipping gadget in the world,” says Brosius. “We have airports; we’ve hotels, we’ve got the entirety that is needed. Typically, towns have had to construct lots within the beyond to do it – we don’t need to do this.”
Like Stockholm, the Italian bid tasks a budget within the vicinity of US$1.5 billion, with nearly US$276 million allotted for venue infrastructure. According to its Games masterplan, events would be staged in 14 competition venues across four stellar clusters. Skating sports and ice hockey might be held in Milan, wherein the city’s San Siro soccer stadium would play host to the hole rite. Most alpine skiing occasions would arise in Cortina, that’s already slated to preserve the 2021 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships. Other snow sports activities like snowboarding and freestyle snowboarding would be contested across Predazzo, Bormio, Livigno and Val di Fiemme, which might additionally host Nordic competitions. By the reforms outlined in Agenda 2020, which has sought to rein in the spiraling prices of the Olympic delivery method, each bidder had been working intently with the IOC to pleasant-tune their respective bids. Key technical factors which include venue planning, shipping, safety, and sustainability were all addressed in the course of the ‘Dialogue Stage,’ ensuing in revised proposals and great fee financial savings. “That component without a doubt applicable us very well, truly, and as we are a quite agile and open-minded bid, it turned into no longer difficult to change in the event that they had ideas,” says Brosius, who credit the IOC for being “very supportive and carrier-minded” at some point of the preliminary software section. “What changed into superb for us throughout that process as nicely changed into that it also labored as a piece of high-quality approval of the work that has been achieved.” According to IOC figures, the candidate cities will use 80 consistent with cent present or transient venues, compared to 60 in step with cent among the candidates for the Winter Games of 2018 and 2022. Also, the preliminary Games running costs projected using the bidders are, on average, 20 in step with cent (about US$400 million) decrease than the ones within the other candidature procedures. “I must be honest,” says Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago, “without Agenda 2020 we might in no way have been able to gift a bid to host the Games. For this, I need to thank [IOC] president [Thomas] Bach and IOC individuals who had the incredible instinct of converting the technique to candidature additionally through ‘The New Norm’ issued at PyeongChang.”