Stockholm 2026 appeals to IOC: Your reforms are boosting support for Olympics in Sweden
By Jonathan Rest
The International Olympic Committee should have no concerns over the level of support for Stockholm's campaign to stage the 2026 winter Olympics if the Swedish capital is awarded the games later today, bid officials have declared.
Stockholm-Åre is up against Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy for the right to stage the games, with IOC members expected to cast their vote around 6pm (CET) in Lausanne.
While a recent IOC-commissioned poll had support for hosting the Olympics in Italy at over 80 per cent, Stockholm's lagged at around 55 per cent.
However, bid chief executive Richard Brisius said citizens in Sweden were beginning to "bridge the knowledge gap" once they become aware of Agenda 2020 and the New Norm, two reform measures aimed at making the Olympics cheaper to organise.
Indeed, Stockholm-Åre's planned operational budget for the games of about $1.5 billion will be funded through IOC revenues and private investments, without any taxpayer money.
Public funds will only be spent on security and on upgrading existing venues or infrastructure that is run and maintained by local authorities, meaning the public should not be concerned about finances for hospitals and schools being directed to games' projects.
Brisius told Sportcal: "Our public support is growing. More people have crossed the knowledge gap, they understand the new way of organising the games."
Stockholm-Åre 2026 later released a new poll, conducted by Kentar, a Swedish division of the Kantar Group, which found that public support for the bid rises to 63 per cent, with just 11 per cent opposing, when respondents are aware of three fundamental New Norm-inspired aspects of the games plan: the games will be self-financed from private sector revenues; the games will use existing facilities and no new facilities will be built solely for the event; and the games will be ‘climate smart’ with minimal environmental impact and minimal carbon emissions.
The proportion of people in favour of bringing the games to Sweden rises to 74 per cent among 18 to 29 year-olds and 70 per cent among 30 to 34 year-olds.
Brisius added: “From the very beginning, the IOC made it clear to us that this is an opportunity to approach the winter games in a new way, and Stockholm-Åre 2026 has embraced that opportunity... Only 11 per cent said that they are not in favour of the games – and that shows the more Swedes know about the New Norm reforms, the more their passion for winter sports and Sweden’s first ever winter games will shine through."
Swedish IOC member Gunilla Lindberg said that, without the Agenda 2020 and New Norm measures, which have enabled Stockholm to present a bid that would stage some events as far away as Are (600km away) and even Sigulda, Lativa (sliding sports), "we would not have bid."
She added: "It is a safe bid, a safe country with a solid basis. We don’t have to build airports, highways or trains and we have the venues ready."
Brisius talked up the strong commercial support Stockholm-Åre has received, and played down concerns that the capital has refused to sign the host-city contract if it is awarded the games. Co-host Åre will sign it instead.
He added: "It does not raise any concern. Our bid is 100-per-cent solid. Importantly, the prime minister [who is in Lausanne for the vote], after he came on board with full support from the government, said this is Sweden's games, it does not matter which city signs it. Each council is behind the games...
"The government has provided all guarantees. What we have done is go way and beyond what is expected."