THE BIG PICTURE: Stockholm-Are and Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo submit bids for 2026 Winter Games

After five potential bid cities all left the scene, there were two bidders who actually submitted the formal documentation to the International Olympic Committee last Friday (11th) for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.

There are issues with both, but Stockholm-Are (SWE) and the combined Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo (ITA) bid are both in the game, with the host city to be selected at the IOC Session in Lausanne (SUI) in June.

Stockholm’s bid now includes the Are ski area in its name to emphasize its important role in a potential Games there, just as Cortina d’Ampezzo will host the mountain events in Italy’s bid, with the skating events in Milan.

The issue for both bids is governmental support, as both have significant existing venue blocks that can host most of the events without major construction costs.

● Italy’s bid has long depended on regional governmental support from the Lombardy (Milan) and Veneto (Cortina) regions, with the national government explicitly stating it would not fund the project.

However, the site reported last week that the Italian national government has indicated support for the bid in those areas in which it has all of the authority, notably on immigration and visas and security.

● In Stockholm-Are, there is no national government to get support from, since last year’s national elections left a divided parliament and no governing coalition has been formed yet.

However – perhaps following Italy’s lead – Stockholm obtained an 11th-hour letter of support from the governors of three counties in which the bid is concentrated: Yiva Thorn for Dalarna (Falun and Are), Sven-Erik Osterberg for Stockholm and Joran Hagglund for Jamtland (Oestersund).

The letter from the three governors noted that “The whole concept for the Games will include already existing arenas and use already planned investments as a go ahead for the Games. This means that these Games will be cost-efficient and that it will benefit from the hospitality from the whole of Sweden.

“Being Governors for the three Swedish Counties that will be involved in hosting the Games, we are very proud of the bid and approach given by the Swedish Olympic Committee and the Swedish Paralympic Committee.”

In view of the governmental situation, the IOC has agreed to wait for a “a few weeks” for the requested national guarantees on security, visas and the like.

The next public step in the bid process will be visits by the IOC’s Evaluation Commission to the bid areas. The Sweden visit is currently scheduled for 12-16 March and the visit to Italy from 2-6 April.

Italy has hosted the Winter Games twice before, in Cortina in 1956 and Turin in 2006, but Sweden – a winter-sports powerhouse – has never hosted the Winter Games. Stockholm was the host of the important 1912 summer Games, which brought a new degree of organization to the Olympic Movement that was closely followed in succeeding years. If Stockholm were to be selected, it would be the second consecutive city to have hosted both a summer and Winter Games, after Beijing in 2008/2022.