Milan beats Stockholm in vote to host 2026 winter Olympics
By Jonathan Rest
The 2026 winter Olympic Games will be staged in Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, after the Italian campaign defeated its rival, Stockholm-Åre in Sweden, in a vote of International Olympic Committee members today.
Milan-Cortina picked up 47 votes at the IOC session in Lausanne, to Stockholm-Åre's 34.
It will be third time Italy has staged the winter Olympics, after Cortina in 1956 and Turin in 2006.
The decision represents a notable recovery for the Italian bid, which was declared dead nine months ago by the Italian government after Turin ended its involvement.
However, the provinces of Lombardy and Veneto, in which Milan and Cortina are located, respectively, subsequently said that they planned to continue as a duo, jointly providing the financial guarantees normally provided by the central government. Then, in April, Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, signed a letter guaranteeing the government’s full support for the bid.
Milan is only slated to stage ice hockey, for which a privately-funded arena will be built, and figure skating and short track, as well as the opening ceremony at the city's famed soccer stadium, the 80,000-seat San Siro.
A near five-hour drive away is the Alpine ski resort of Cortina d’Ampezzo, where alpine skiing, sliding sports, biathlon and curling will be held. In between the two main hosts, competitions will be held in the likes of Val di Fiemme and Valtellina, with the closing ceremony in Verona.
Milan-Cortina had first appeared to be ahead of its Swedish rival after the IOC issued its evaluation commission report last month, in which it said the Italian bid meets all of the criteria for a successful games.
Those key elements include, the commission said, “a clear vision aligned with existing long-term development goals, a solid venue masterplan, firm support from all sectors of society and the best possible athlete experience.”
Public support in Milan-Cortina was also strong, according to an IOC poll, conducted in March 2019, which found 83-per-cent support in Italy, 87 per cent in Milan, and 81 per cent in Lombardy and 80 per cent in Veneto, the regions which would help finance the games, “demonstrating the public’s enthusiasm for the project.”
The Italian government plans to invest up to €415 million ($473 million) in staging the games, to cover elements of the budget including security, albeit it expects this to be offset by a forecast of €600 million in state revenues from the project.
The games operating budget is around €1.5 billion, with the IOC expected to contribute $925 million to the hosts.
Today's vote confirms a return of the winter OIympics to Europe for the first time since Turin in 2006, following visits to Canada (2010), Russia (2014), South Korea (2018) and China (2022).