Olympic boss ‘very confident’ over Italy’s 2026 Winter Games bid

The Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto are hoping to host the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Olympic boss 'very confident' over Italy's 2026 Winter Games bid
Cortina d'Ampezzo, which along with Milan is bidding for the 2016 Winter Olympics. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

Olympic chief Thomas Bach said Thursday he was “very confident” that Italy would present a joint bid by Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, a ski resort in the Dolomites, to host the 2026 Winter Olympics despite the country's government ruling out funding.

The Italian government has agreed to back the bid by Milan-Cortina but without giving financial aide, with the budget to be covered by the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto, which are among Italy's richest.

Bach was speaking after a two-day visit during which he met with Italian president Sergio Mattarella along with national Olympic chief Giovanni Malago and cabinet undersecretary Giancarlo Giorgetti, who is in charge of sport. 

“After the talks with CONI and with the undersecretary Giorgetti, I'm very confident there will be a solution found which will be in the interests of Italy and the interests of sport,” the International Olympic Committee head said.

“We are leaving Rome and Italy with much more confidence about this candidature. We really see things coming along.”

“Guarantees have been expressed by Lombardy and Veneto and I'm confident that we'll have them, which are very important to secure the entire project.”

Bach said he had also been assured by Giorgetti that the Italian government was “ready to deliver the guarantees about free entry and security”.

Milan could be one of the cities hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics. Photo: fazon1/Depositphotos

Calgary and Stockholm are the other two cities bidding for the 2026 Games. 

The Canadian project will be put to a referendum next week, while Sweden are still awaiting a new government two months after elections.

The IOC boss said there was no plan B if all three should pull out of the race.

“We're waiting for the referendum in Calgary. And in Sweden, the bid committee is in contact with the various interlocutors,” added Bach.

Turin had initially been part of a three-city plan but was ruled out last month. The bid is going forward with Milan and Cortina.

Italy have twice hosted the Winter Olympics, in Cortina in 1956 and Turin in 2006, with the 1960 Summer Games held in Rome.

The country has twice pulled out of bids to organise the Summer Olympics in recent years, for 2020 and 2024.

The 2026 host will be selected by the IOC in a vote on June 24 in Lausanne, Switzerland.

READ ALSO: World's oldest Olympian dies at home in Italy



Italy vs Sweden: Who will host the 2026 Winter Olympics?

International Olympic Committee members will decide on Monday between bids by Stockholm-Are and Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo in the race to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

Italy vs Sweden: Who will host the 2026 Winter Olympics?
Cortina d'Ampezzo, which hosted the Winter Games in 1956. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

The vote to choose a winner from the Swedish and Italian rivals is expected to be closer than the 2015 vote when Beijing beat the Kazakh city Almaty to land the 2022 Winter Games.

READ ALSO: Polls show Italians more enthusiastic about Winter Games bid than Swedes

On the road to the 2026 decision, bids from Calgary, Graz in Austria, Japan's Sapporo and Sion in Switzerland have fallen by the wayside, mainly because of concerns over the cost or a lack of popular support. A bid by the Turkish ski resort of Erzurum was ruled out by the IOC in October 2018.

The bid by Stockholm and the Are ski area — which hosted the World Ski Championships in February — appeared to be running out of steam a few months ago due to a lack of funding commitments, but the government has now swung behind it.

On the eve of the vote, Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven said after meeting IOC president Thomas Bach: “Sweden is ready to host the Winter Olympic Games in 2026 and the Swedish government is very supportive.”

Sweden presents its bid. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

“While organising a great Games, we can end the age of extremely costly Olympics that threaten welfare spending and leave a trail of underused structures and public resentment,” the Swedish prime minister said. “You wanted change; we will deliver this change.” 

Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte followed the Swedes with his pitch for Milan on Monday.

“Our bid is worthy of the highest consideration,” Conte told delegates. “If Italy is chosen, then work will start from this evening so that our Games leave a mark on history.

“This is the dream of an entire country, and not only the government but also the regions.”

Italy's champion skier Sofia Goggia was in Lausanne to back the Italian bid. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Italian Olympic 500m short track speed skating champion Arianna Fontana highlighted the climate advantages of the bid. “Milan-Cortina will be the sunny part of the Winter Olympics, with an average ten hours of sunlight every day,” she said.

Michela Moioli, Olympic snowboard champion in 2018, added: “The whole country believes in us; it's your turn to believe in us.” 

A total of 82 IOC members are reportedly likely to cast votes in the ballot to decide the host city, meaning a simple majority of 42 will be required to win.

Italy has twice hosted the Winter Olympics — in 1956 in Cortina d'Ampezzo and 2006 in Turin. Sweden has only hosted the Summer Olympics, in 1912 in Stockholm.