Race for 2026 winter Olympics is 'even', says Sweden's sports minister
The race between Stockholm-Åre in Sweden and Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy to host the 2026 winter Olympic Games is “even,” according to Amanda Lind, Sweden’s minister for culture, democracy and sports.
Speaking to the Stockholm-Åre 2026 bid ahead of the planned publication on Friday of an International Olympic Committee evaluation commission report assessing the two bids, Lind said: “The tension is building up. I understand that it is an even race between Stockholm-Åre and Milan-Cortina. I hope, of course, that Sweden wins and comes away with the positive decision.”
Linking the bid to Sweden’s pursuit of environmental and sustainability goals, Lind said: “Sweden has high goals when it comes to the environment and sustainability. We want to be at the forefront, and a Winter Games would give Sweden the opportunity to showcase that to the world…
“The issue of climate change is very topical right now – and it’s an area that is important in this process, as winter sports will experience the consequences of climate change the most, being dependent on winter climate.”
Lind added that the IOC’s Agenda 2020 provides good advice on reusing existing facilities and avoiding building white elephants. She said: “It’s absolutely necessary to follow these guidelines; sports must be serious and responsible when it comes to climate and environmental issues. Part of it is to use facilities that already exist, and not to build new ones. Carrying out the competitions both as climate-smart and as economically as possible are areas that permeate the Stockholm-Åre 2026 plan.”
Lind also backed Stockholm’s track record of hosting major sports events, saying: “Stockholm has hosted many major sporting events, especially winter sport competitions. When winter sport events are arranged in Stockholm, there is a fantastic party atmosphere and festival. Just look at the Palace Sprint, or the Alpine World Cup competitions at Hammarbybacken. There’s definitely great interest and passion for winter sports amongst Stockholmers.”
Stockholm-Åre’s bid for the games last month finally welcomed a formal pledge of support for the campaign from the Swedish government, regarded as a significant boost after Milan-Cortina had already gained the backing of the Italian authorities.
The lack of central government support had been seen as a major hitch for Stockholm albeit the bid claimed to have held “very positive” talks with senior officials including prime minister Stefan Löfven earlier this year.
While the Swedish government support does not come with a major financial commitment (Stockholm 2026 has pledged not to use taxpayer money to stage the Olympics), it does provide guarantees on issues such as security and visas at the games, as required by the IOC.
Sweden has never previously hosted the winter Olympics, and the only summer games in the country were in Stockholm as long ago as 1912.
IOC members are due to vote to select the host city at an IOC Session in Lausanne on 24 June and Lind added: “I’ll follow the vote as closely as I can and wait for what I hope will be good news. It will be a very nervous day, that’s for sure.”