It’s Official: Italy Is Hosting The 2026 Winter Olympic Games
Track stars and famed athletes might be gearing up for the Tokyo 2020 Games, but when it comes to snow, skiing and the various epic feats across ice and air, the only thing fans of the winter sports are thinking about are the upcoming Winter Olympics.
Beijing will host the 2022 Winter Olympics, but in 2026 that honour befalls Italy.
Italy won the bid over Stockholm, who entered with a dual bid with the ski resort of Are, Sweden. But with only 34 I.O.C. delegates favouring Sweden, it was the 47 votes for Northern Italy that saw it come out on top, which wasn’t too surprising, given that they had a staggering amount of public support and a willingness by government officials to offer financial guarantees.
To host the Olympics is an incredible moment for a city. Sydney did it back in 2000, and the streets came alive as tourists and residents alike flocked to the stadiums, arenas, and outdoor television screens to see our athletes take on the best in the world. To see such feats performed, or attempted, makes for an empowering moment where the strength and resilience of the human spirit is enacted in live time, across international TV screens.
But while the economic gains of tourist traffic and advertising might make the position of host appear as something to be coveted, fewer cities are willing to bankroll the billions needed to operate the Games, be it the summer or winter Olympics. Even outside of the Olympics, sporting tournaments are a costly affair. Just look at Russia, whose construction of the Cosmos Arena for the 2018 FIFA World Cup went $85 million over budget. Then there was their $51 billion expense to construct and operate the 2014 Olympics in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
The 2026 bid for the Winter Games was no different, with a number of candidates withdrawing their bid, or being deemed insufficiently prepared. However, in an effort at reform, the I.O.C. allowed Olympic hosting to be shared by cities, regions, and even countries, allowing Sweden to host the bobsled, luge and skeleton events across the Baltic Sea in Sigulda, Latvia.
For Italy however, the joy of hosting the Winter Olympics in 2026 is all theirs. The initial operating budget is projected at $1.7 billion, but as is always the case, those costs are expected to rise. The I.O.C. has pledged to contribute $925 million to the organisers from television rights, corporate sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandising.
Italy will spread the 2026 Games among several cities between Milan and Cortina. The opening ceremony will be held at Milan’s San Siro soccer stadium, which hosted the 1990 soccer World Cup, while the closing ceremony is scheduled to take place in an amphitheatre in Verona.
Taking to Twitter, Italy’s prime minister Guiseppe Conte said, “We are proud of this great result. Italy has won, an entire country that worked united and compact with the ambition to realise and offer the world a ‘memorable’ sports event.”