THE BIG PICTURE: Italy’s bid for the 2026 Winter Games is in turmoil as Turin withdraws

While much of the focus in international sport is on WADA’s decision on Russian reinstatement and its own ethics, there is also more turmoil in the derby for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

Italy is a potential candidate, proposing a unique three-city program in Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo. It was reported Monday that Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala demanded that his city be identified as the “host city” of the Games, but could also include venues in Turin and Cortina.

That position has not appealed to Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino, and on Tuesday, the Secretary of the Council of Minister for Sport, Giancarlo Giorgetti, said that the Italian national government has withdrawn its support for the prior, three-city bid proposal made by the Italian National Olympic Committee.

Instead, a Milan-Cortina could be substituted and regional leaders of the two area issued a statement noting “at this point it is unthinkable to throw everything out the window. The application must be saved, so we are willing to take this challenge together. If Turin is called out, and we are sorry, at this point there remain two realities, which are called Lombardy-Veneto.”

Representatives of the two-region bid are supposed to meet with the IOC staff in Lausanne (SUI) on Wednesday to pitch the idea. The IOC’s deadline for inviting cities to bid for the 2026 Winter Games comes on 8 October.

The Milan-Cortina bid would have to go through the gymnastics of getting national governmental support once again. That’s the same situation as the Stockholm (SWE) bid, which has to wait for government support; the national elections on 9 September produced no clear winner and another coalition government will have to be assembled.

Sapporo (JPN) formally pulled out of the 2026 race to focus on 2030. Calgary (CAN) has a referendum on 13 November, leaving Erzurum (TUR) still standing and actually ready to bid.