Milan, Cortina to share Games amid soaring costs

MILAN • Northern Italy was chosen on Monday night as the site of the 2026 Winter Olympics, with hosting to be shared by the economic and fashion capital of Milan and the ski resort of Cortina d'Ampezzo, which hosted the 1956 edition.

But, with only two finalists - the Swedish capital of Stockholm was the other candidate - for the second bidding process in a row, it is clear the International Olympic Committee (IOC) has a task on its hands to curb waning interest, spiralling costs and white-elephant competition venues associated with the Games.

The 2026 finalists reflected the IOC's effort at reform by allowing Olympic hosting to be shared by different cities, different regions and even different countries, with fewer cities willing to bankroll the billions needed to run the quadrennial tournament.

The Swedish bid, for instance, planned to hold the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events across the Baltic Sea in Sigulda, Latvia, where a refrigerated track already exists.

Italy have proposed to spread the 2026 Games among several cities between Milan and Cortina, which are about 402km apart.

"We are proud of this great result," Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte tweeted minutes after the announcement. "Italy has won, an entire country that worked united and compact with the ambition to realise and offer the world a memorable sports event."

While the initial operating budget for the 2026 Games has been projected at US$1.7 billion (S$2.3 billion), these costs always rise, often significantly.

Russia spent a jaw-dropping US$51 billion to construct and operate the 2014 Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and the 2022 Games were awarded to Beijing almost by default as a number of potential host cities withdrew.

REUTERS, NYTIMES

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 26, 2019, with the headline 'Milan, Cortina to share Games amid soaring costs'. Print Edition | Subscribe