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24 Jun 2019

Italy's Milan-Cortina bid wins vote to host 2026 winter Olympics
BY Tom Walker

Milan-Cortina received 47 out of a total of 82 votes cast by IOC members

Milan-Cortina received 47 out of a total of 82 votes cast by IOC members
photo: IOC

Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo will host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics – the 25th edition of the Games.

The joint bid by Milan and Alpine ski resort Cortina won a two-horse race against a similar dual bid by Swedish capital Stockholm and ski resort Åre.

The 2026 will see skating sports and ice hockey being held in Milan, while most alpine skiing events will take place in Cortina, more than 100 miles away.

Some snow sports events will also be held at Bormio and Livigno.

The vote – which took place during the 134th IOC Session held in Lausanne, Switzerland on 24 June – saw Milan-Cortina receive 47 out of a total of the 82 votes cast by IOC members, with Stockholm-Åre receiving 34 votes, with one abstention.

Speaking after the result was announced, Giovanni Malagò, IOC member and president of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI), said: “This is a very, very important result for the whole country.

"In particular, I am really proud of this fantastic team that we created together.

"Initially it was quite complicated. What we have done this afternoon represents perfectly the images of my country. Thanks to all of you.”

IOC President Thomas Bach added: “Congratulations to Milan-Cortina for this victory.

"For the IOC, this is a great day. We have the Olympic Winter Games 2026 in a traditional winter sports country with great experience in winter sport, with passionate fans and great athletes.

“With this project aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020, we have seen how we can also lower the complexity of the Games and how this can be addressed in a better way, and how the use of existing facilities is facilitating sustainability and legacy goals. In this respect, the candidature of Milan-Cortina stood out with 93 per cent use of existing or temporary facilities.

“With this enthusiasm we have seen there, and with this great support of the Italians, the foundation is laid and therefore excellent preparations; and in this respect, this is not only a victory for Milan-Cortina, it is a victory for the Italian sports fans who have so greatly supported the Olympic Games: their great athletes."

The selecting of Milan-Cortina brings to an end one of the most troubled bidding processes of any Olympic Games.

Seven cities had officially entered the bidding process in September 2017 – Milan, Stockholm, Calgary (Canada), Erzurum (Turkey), Sapporo (Japan), Graz (Austria) and Sion (Switzerland) – but failure to win over the support of local populations and governments saw five candidates pull out of the race.

At times, it seemed that there might be no bids at all, as both Stockholm and Milan experienced difficulties in securing support locally.

Stockholm's bid came under threat in October 2018, when a newly-elected Stockholm City Government announced that no taxpayer money should be "wasted" on hosting the Games.

The Italian bid originally included three cities – Turin, Milan and Cortina – but collapsed due to divisions between the three city governments. Milan and Cortina then decided to "rescue" the bid and go it alone but also experienced difficulties to secure level of funding support.

As a result of the recent disinterest in cities hosting Olympics Games – both summer and winter – the IOC has been forced to re-adjust its bidding processes.

The bids from Stockholm and Milan are the first candidature files produced since the Olympic Agenda 2020/The New Norm was approved by the IOC Session in February 2018 – designed to "deliver substantial benefits to the cities and their projects".

There has been an emphasis on lowering the costs of hosting Games and IOC has conceded that cities should be allowed to use existing infrastructure, rather than invest in expensive, new Olympic stadiums and facilities.

This has led to the two bid plans for 2026 using – on average – 80 per cent existing or temporary venues, compared to 60 per cent among the candidates for the Olympic Winter Games 2018 and 2022.

In addition, the initial Games operating costs projected by Stockholm and Milan are around 20 per cent (approximately US$400m) lower than those in the two previous candidature processes.

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