IOC approves 3 candidate bids for 2026 Winter Olympics
BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) — The International Olympic Committee has three official candidates to host the 2026 Winter Games and a new timetable to pick the winner.
Now the Olympic body needs to overcome "bad faith" — of local people and activists who believe staging the games is too expensive — to ensure all three candidates stay on the ballot next June, IOC members were told Tuesday
"We have to make a huge effort in explaining ourselves better," IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. said Tuesday. "It is not getting across with sufficient strength."
The 2026 Olympics contest is between Calgary, Canada; Stockholm, Sweden; and the combined Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo after IOC members formally backed the bids recommended last week by their executive board.
A fourth contender, Erzurum in Turkey, was dropped by the board last week amid concern about high spending on essential projects.
Calgary, which also hosted in 1988, could yet drop out after a Nov. 13 referendum. Full support of federal and local governments is also not guaranteed in Sweden or Italy.
These are the latest public tests of trust in Olympic hosting since Russia spent $51 billion to prepare for the 2014 Sochi Winter Games.
Voters in Switzerland and Austria already toppled potential 2026 bids. Recent Olympic hosting contests saw bids fail due to public opposition or government doubts in Scandinavia, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland.
Boston also was briefly in the 2024 Olympics contest, before Los Angeles stepped in and was awarded the 2028 edition.
IOC member Alex Gilady of Israel blamed it on a "very few, very noisy people" who want to harm the Olympics in a debate on Tuesday about creating more flexible bid races and more efficient hosting projects.
Samaranch, who led the IOC panel studying 2026 contenders, suggested some opposition was by "people that do that on bad faith," and urged Olympic officials to fight with facts.
"Be ready to debate with whoever because we are very much right," Samaranch told fellow members. "The magic of the Olympic Games, the good things, do not come at a significant financial burden, or risk for the communities that will host us."
Earlier, members were told the three candidates are set to have an average operations budget of $1.7 billion — $300 million less than the 2022 Beijing Winter Games
"Any of the three would be a very good trustworthy partner for us," said Samaranch, promising no unwanted "white elephant" venues.
"Nothing that will come out of '26 will make us feel ashamed in '46," said the Spanish official. "They have been able to produce projects that make sense for their communities and their administrators and their politicians."
The 2016 election timetable has been brought forward three months due to the Italian bid.
Because Milan is a candidate, it cannot host the IOC annual meeting including the 2026 vote that was scheduled next September.
The IOC agreed to stage the next meeting in its home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, around the June 23 inauguration of its new $200 million headquarters.
In other business Tuesday:
A refugee team will be created to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. A team of 10 refugees competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics. The IOC has identified around 50 potential athletes who could receive support to prepare for Tokyo.
A declaration of Athletes' Rights and Responsibilities was accepted, following a year-long survey of 4,200 athletes from 190 countries. It aims to help protect athletes from sexual and physical abuse, doping and harassment.
The Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, was re-elected as an IOC member for a third eight-year term. He was among four current members re-elected and nine new members were voted in.