Italian government: 2026 Olympic bid dead; Milan and Cortina: No it's not
There was confusion today over the fate of a joint bid by three Italian locations to host the 2026 winter Olympic Games, after the Italian government declared that it was dead, but Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo said they would continue, with only Turin dropping out.
Yesterday, Giancarlo Giorgetti, the country’s sports minister, told parliament: “The proposal does not have the support of the government so it dies here. Doubt and suspicion prevailed.”
However, Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo later insisted they would submit a joint bid to the International Olympic Committee ahead of the publication of a shortlist on 8 October, despite Giorgetti saying that such a bid would not have government backing.
Luigi Di Maio, the deputy prime minister, blamed CONI, the Italian national Olympic committee, for not selecting a single lead bid city, saying: “The truth is that we have unfortunately paid the price of CONI’s decision. In an attempt to make everyone happy, it did not have the courage to make a clear decision from the start, creating an unsustainable situation in which, as usual, they wasted state money.”
A collapse of the bid would be a major embarrassment to CONI after Rome successively withdrew from the races to stage the 2020 and 2024 summer Olympics over financial concerns and political opposition, respectively.
Such a collapse would leave just three cities in the race (Calgary in Canada, Stockholm in Sweden and Erzurum in Turkey), after Sapporo in Japan pulled out earlier this week.
A referendum ended Sion in Switzerland’s hopes of bidding for the games, while Graz in Austria withdrew its bid last month because of a lack of support from the government of the state of Styria.
Calgary’s bid is facing opposition from within the city council, with councillor Druh Farrell questioning the rationale behind pursuing the bid at the same time as cuts are being made to arts and cultural activities within the city.
Farrell said: “I guess the question that I have is we have so many fundamental organisations that provide incredible quality of life for Calgary and we’re talking about cutting them and at the same time we’re talking about the Olympics. And I'm really struggling to rationalise this austerity budget or the Olympics…
“So to put all of our hopes and dreams on one unicorn event, and in the meantime we do nothing or we cut, doesn’t make any sense to me.”
Farrell was one of three councillors who earlier this month voted against moving forward with the bid process, albeit the majority backed the plan.
The IOC has set a deadline of 11 January next year for the submission of bids, with members to vote on the host city on 11 September, 2019.