Polls show Italians much more enthusiastic about 2026 Winter Games bid than Swedes

Support for Italy's bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo has grown with 83 percent of Italians now backing the project, according to poll carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Polls show Italians much more enthusiastic about 2026 Winter Games bid than Swedes
President of the Italian National Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago speaks during a visit of the IOC Evaluation Commission for the 2026 Winter Olympics games on Saturday. Photo: Miguel MEDINA / AFP
By comparison, similar polls carried out in Sweden, where Stockholm is the only city in competition with Italy, put the figure at 53 percent.
IOC evaluation commission chairman Octavian Morariu revealed the Italian poll figures on Saturday after an inspection of proposed sites in the country's northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Morariu described the joint bid by Italy's financial capital and Dolomites ski resort Cortina D'Ampezzo as a “very competitive proposition”.
“After our five days here, we can say that the overwhelming popular support demonstrated by the latest IOC poll is not a surprise,” Morariu told a press conference.
In Milan, 87 percent are in favour of the Olympics, while in the region of Lombardy, of which Milan is the capital, it was 81 percent and Cortina's Veneto region, 80 percent.
“Wherever we went we felt welcome,” continued Morariu of the visit which began in Venice.
Under the bid, figure skating, hockey and short-track speedskating would be held in Milan, with sliding sports and curling in Cortina; and speedskating, biathlon and Nordic sports would take place at Trentino-Alto Adige. The alpine skiing events would be in Bormio for the men and Cortina for women while the opening ceremony would be at the San Siro football stadium, with the closing ceremony at Verona's Arena, a large Roman amphitheatre.
“We found a great candidature team, that put a lot of passion and enthusiasm into the work,” said Morariu. “This is really very, very strong.”
'Financial boost' –
Despite darkening clouds gathering over Italy's economy, the Italian government on Friday officially provided the financial guarantees for the bid amounting to €415 million ($465 million).
“There's strong support from the government, local communities, athletes and the financial community,” said Morariu.  “The letter we received yesterday from the government proved it.” 
Former Romanian rugby international Morariu said the IOC would invest a further $920 million into the project.
“The Olympic Games are a catalyst for social and environmental change and also a true business opportunity,” he said.
Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala said local people overwhelmingly backed the project.
“We want to win!” said Sala. “The Olympic Games could provide a fundamental opportunity for our city.”
No formal backing in Sweden
Stockholm has yet to receive full backing from the Swedish government with the deadline for providing guarantees officially April 12.
“What matters is that we receive the guarantees in due time, have time to analyse them and have them approved by the committee by June 24,” said Morariu referring to the date when the winning bid will be chosen in Lausanne. “This is the date that matters.”
Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago said they hoped that their “track record” would convince the IOC to choose them over Sweden.
“Italy has a long history of organising great sports events. We hope this tradition can continue in 2026,” added Malago.
Italy has hosted the Olympic three times, with the 1956 and 2006 Winter Games held in Cortina and Turin respectively, and Rome hosting the 1960 Summer Games.

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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.