(ATR) The IOC Coordination Commission and Milano Cortina 2026 organizers meet for the first time amid growing concerns that a sports law being considered by the Italian government could adversely affect preparations for the Winter Games.
Tuesday’s meeting, which was held virtually, included IOC President Thomas Bach as well as the members of the Commission chaired by Sari Essayah of Finland.
Milano Cortina 2026 and Italian National Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malagò and Milano Cortina 2026 CEO Vincenzo Novari led the organizing committee delegation in the meeting.
"Milano Cortina 2026 has made considerable progress despite the challenges posed by COVID-19," Essayah said in a statement after the meeting.
"The integration of Olympic Agenda 2020 and the New Norm into the project, particularly around the use of existing venues, will provide a sustainable legacy for both international sport and local communities within Italy."
One of the major milestones praised by the Coordination Commission was the approval in February by the Italian Parliament of an Olympic Law which dictates the organization and governance of Milano Cortina 2026.
The IOC statement does not mention the ongoing dispute between the IOC and the Italian government concerning a proposed new sports law that the IOC says is in violation of the Olympic Charter.
Bach, speaking to Italian reporters on Sunday while attending the cycling world championships in Imola, said the legislation under debate amounts to government interference of the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI). He warned the country could face sanctions if it passes.
Bach said the IOC had written to the Italian sports minister Vincenzo Spadafora at the beginning of September "expressing these serious concerns", according to Associated Press.
In August 2019, the IOC Olympic Solidarity director James Macleod sent CONI President Giovanni Malagò a letter warning that the pending legislation could put at risk the status of CONI.
Macleod raised six objections with the legislation, warning that the consequences could mean withdrawal of IOC recognition of CONI.
The IOC has suspended NOCs on occasion when impasses have arisen with governments. In June 2019, the IOC restored relations with the Kuwait NOC after years of deadlock over changes to Kuwaiti law. During that time Kuwaiti athletes competed at the Olympics and other sports events under a neutral flag.
According to AP, Bach suggested that in extreme circumstances Milano Cortina could be stripped of hosting the 2026 Games.
There has been little movement on the Italian legislation in more than a year but a lack of action may end up producing the same result as a "no" vote. Around the Rings is told that the reform measures will expire in November. Should they not be approved by then, the current law would remain in force.
Written by Gerard Farek
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