(ATR) Reduced costs, use of pre-existing winter venues and a shorter candidature phase are components of the new 2026 Winter Olympic bid process unanimously approved by the International Olympic Committee.
Following guidelines provided by IOC vice-president John Coates and full support by ski federation president Gian Franco Kasper on behalf of the seven winter sport federations, IOC president Thomas Bach received a second round of unanimous approval.
The members of the 130th IOC Session in Lausanne moved forward with the game-changing candidate selection process for the Winter Games, as it did for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games earlier. The plan of the IOC is to select hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Summer Olympics on the same vote at the IOC Session in Lima September 13. Paris and Los Angeles are the two candidates.
That move is meant to take advantage of two bids which are considered outstanding, without rejecting either. For the Winter Games, changes call for a more consultative process and more flexibility regarding venues.
"The Winter Games 2026 will be more feasible and you will see a new management plan in Lima that will result in even more cost reductions when it comes to organizing the Games," Bach said, at a news conference in Lausanne following the close of the 130th Session
For the 2026 Winter Games, IOC members will vote on a shortlist of cities to move forward to the candidature phase at an IOC Session. Interested cities will need to meet four guarantees. The IOC and respective winter federations will also cooperate closer with prospective bids, offering substantial guidance during a longer invitation period.
Coates called it a "new process building on Olympic Agenda 2020."
Kasper said: "It will take much stronger involvement of our federations, but we’re absolutely prepared to do that instead of re-inventing the wheel every four years."
"The result will be cost and time savings for the sports itself, the IOC and the candidate cities," said the Swiss IOC member.
An expert working group chaired by an IOC member would engage in "informal dialogue in an informal way" according to Coates. Respective IF’s would provide the necessary technical knowledge - especially pertaining to venues – to make the invitation process simpler and less expensive for prospective cities.
"We will be more proactive in providing technical support and assistance to reduce the cost to bids and NOC’s," Coates said.
"Hopefully, we’ll have more bids that will be considered."
An evaluation commission would be assembled to assess and work with the cities which make the cut to the candidature phase.
Using costly bobsleigh and luge sliding tracks as the primary example, pre-existing venues, even if they are in a neighboring country, would be utilized to avoid white elephants.
Bobsled and skeleton federation chief Ivo Ferriani gave a thumbs up to the idea, also speaking on behalf of his counterparts at the luge federation.
"We are absolutely committed to be flexible and use exiting sliding tracks," Ferriani said. "We’ll be flexible to slide into the future with the IOC."
Pertaining Innsbruck’s likely 2026 bid, Austrian Olympic Committee president Karl Stoss suggested that the Austrian city might utilize an existing speed skating venue in Inzell, Germany, instead of a deteriorating, older outdoor oval used at previous Winter Olympic and Youth Olympic Games.
"For example in Sochi, the investment for the speed skating was 100 million dollars – that’s crazy," Stoss said. "We don’t need such a venue after the Olympics Games. Why not cooperate with a close venue, which is just 40 minutes from Hochfilzen," he said of nearby Inzell and the Austrian town which would host biathlon.
"It’s a bonus and a golden opportunity for us," Stoss said, of the new Winter Games bidding procedure. "We can explain it to the public and journalists in our country. We are very happy about this proposal."
Other cities interested in bidding for 2026 include Calgary, Sapporo, Stockholm and Sion, Switzerland.
Reported by Brian Pinelli in Lausanne
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