(ATR) The IOC 2026 Evaluation Commission begins a week-long visit to Sweden that will include all but one of the proposed venues for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Evaluation Commission chair Octavian Morariu and Olympic Games Executive Director Christophe Dubi are being joined by a group of around 15 delegates, experts and officials.
The itinerary begins in Åre on Tuesday morning, where the Commission will be received by, among others, Gunilla Lindberg, member of the IOC’s Executive Committee and Secretary General of the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK), Richard Brisius, CEO of Stockholm Åre 2026 and SOK Chairman Mats Årjes.
Following the visit to Åre, the Commission will travel to Stockholm for meetings and arena inspections. On Thursday, there will be a trip to Falun, before the Stockholm meeting continues until Saturday lunchtime, when the visit ends.
Around the Rings correspondent Brian Pinelli will be traveling with the delegation and will be reporting from Sweden this week.
The group won’t visit the Latvian city of Sigulda - where bobsleigh, luge and skeleton events would be held in 2026 - but Dubi told reporters last week that the IOC will rely on international sports federations in the relevant disciplines to complete this evaluation. The Sigulda sliding track is a regular destination for World Cup events though ATR has been told that upgrades would be needed should Sweden win the 2026 bid. A separate Olympic Village would also be needed, given that Sigulda is about 570 kilometers (354 miles) from Stockholm via ferry.
Morariu told ATR last week the existing venues and the budget were two of the "central points" he was focusing on during the visit, adding "I’d like to have confirmation that we are heading in the right direction."
Brisius calls the IOC visit "an opportunity to showcase our world-class facilities and describe how we would like to implement the Winter Olympics in seven years."
The biggest question concerning the Swedish bid has been government support. Brisius said last week that all levels of the government are now on board. Dubi added that, under the new bidding process created as part of Agenda 2020, there is not a specific timetable for Stockholm-Are to finalize government support.
After visiting Sweden, the Evaluation Commission will be heading to Italy from April 2 to 6 for an inspection of Milan-Cortina, the other 2026 candidate.
The Commission’s report will be made public ahead of the host city election, which will take place on June 24 during the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne.
Written by Gerard Farek
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