Stockholm Åre 2026: Regions' letter underlines powerful political support for bid
A joint letter committing three host regions’ governments to Stockholm-Åre’s bid to host the 2026 winter Olympic Games underlines the “powerful political support” behind the campaign, the bid team has claimed.
The letter, published in several Swedish newspapers on Monday, was co-signed by: Irene Svenonius, chair of the Stockholm region executive council; Mats Gärd, chair of the Jämtland Härjedalen region executive council; and Ulf Berg, chair of the Dalarna region executive council.
The ski resort of Åre, in the Jämtland Härjedalen region, is the proposed venue for alpine and snowboard events at the games, Falun in Dalarna is the heartland of Nordic sport in Sweden and would host ski jumping and Nordic combined events, while the Stockholm region would stage 73 per cent of Olympic and 86 per cent of Paralympic sessions.
The letter comes as the bid tries to persuade International Olympic Committee members, who are due to vote to select the host of the games later this month, to question aspects of an IOC evaluation commission report which said that the rival bid of Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy meets all of the criteria for a successful games, but conspicuously failed to offer the same assurances of the Stockholm-Åre bid.
The report said of Stockholm-Åre: “While the concept is solid, some operational aspects need further details... At the time of writing, a number of areas, including the governance model and financial support and commitment, remain to be clarified.”
However, in a statement, Stockholm-Åre countered: “In the Swedish system of government, the region executive councils have a lead role in both public transport and public health, among other areas, giving them central importance in the successful delivery of the games and its social legacies. The Stockholm region executive council alone manages an annual budget of Skr105 billion (approx. $11.1 billion).”
The letter said that hosting the games would be “about much more than just world-class competition and an unforgettable festival atmosphere.”
It added: “An Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sweden would be delivered in a uniquely sustainable way – in terms of the environment, but also in terms of the economy and wider society… The focus around sustainability for 2026 is extremely good for Sweden, a nation leading in this area globally, thanks to long-standing systematic work on sustainable development.”
Stockholm-Åre 2026 pointed out that it has three tiers of support from national, regional and municipal authorities, claiming that this “ensures the privately run organising committee will have the strongest possible foundations. No public funds will be committed to the staging of the games, but all three levels of government have been intimately involved in the development of the Swedish bid since the beginning.
“The regional governments of Stockholm, Jämtland Härjedalen and Dalarna have formally guaranteed the provision of all necessary public services to the games. The bid has also received the necessary guarantees of services from the national governments of Sweden and Latvia, which will host the sliding events, as well as the municipal governments of Stockholm and Åre.”
In April, Stockholm-Åre’s bid 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-Åre.
Following the evaluation commission report, Octavian Morariu, chair of the IOC’s evaluation commission, declined to confirm that central government financial guarantees remain a crucial requirement for successful Olympic bids, saying that it would be for the IOC membership, and not itself, to make that judgement when members vote to choose the host city on 24 June.
The report said that key elements for any successful games include, “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.”