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.