The International Olympic Committee heard presentations from representatives of the final two countries hoping to be named host of the 2026 Winter Olympics on Monday and chose to award the Games to Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo. The decision, which came down to Stockholm-Åre and the northern Italian area, was announced in Lausanne, Switzerland, and drew excited chants of “Italia! Italia!” from the delegation when the result was announced. Italy last hosted the Olympics in Turin in 2006. The Alpine ski resort Cortina hosted the Winter Games in 1956. The decision between northern Italy and Sweden/northern Sweden reflects a move to split hosting duties among regions and countries rather than confining them to a single city as the costs of staging the Games skyrocket. Milan believed after last month’s evaluation by a panel that it had the strongest bid, but Italy has had serious economic problems and is carrying a debt load that is the second highest (behind Greece) in Europe. Working in its favor was the fact that Milan-Cortina are “two of the richest provinces in Europe,” Italy Undersecretary of State Giancarlo Giorgetti said (via the Associated Press). “They certainly have the capacity, they have the readiness, they have the finances in order to be able to support the event.” Italy’s bid for the 2020 Summer Games in Rome ended amid financial concerns in 2012 and a bid for the 2024 Olympics ended three years ago because of opposition from politicians. Still, Italy believed all along it would get the 2026 Games.
“We’re the forerunner and we take pride in that fact,” Giovanni Malago, president of the Italian Olympic Committee, said. Sweden mounted a late campaign in which the mayor of Stockholm actually appealed to voters by singing Abba’s “Dancing Queen.” The country had hoped to put on Games that were environmentally friendly and emphasized sustainability at a responsible expense.
“Sustainability,” Richard Brisius, CEO of the bid, said earlier this month, “is in our DNA.”
Latvia was part of the bid, with the plan calling for ice sliding sports to be held across the Baltic Sea, in a cost-saving move. The IOC has promised to contribute at least $925 million toward costs of up to $1.7 billion, with the construction of athlete villages the main expense. The 2022 Winter Games will take place in Beijing. Tokyo will host the next Summer Olympics, the 2020 Games, with Paris the site of the 2024 Summer Games and Los Angeles following in 2028.