(ATR) The Innsbruck 2026 bid is in ruins after a failed referendum but the jury is still out on what Sunday’s vote means to the Olympic bidding process in general.
The IOC tells Around the Rings it "shares the disappointment" with those involved with the Innsbruck project but believes the new candidature process approved last month in Lima is the way forward.
"The IOC will continue its exploratory talks with interested NOCs and cities from America, Asia and Europe within the framework of its new candidature process," said an IOC spokesperson.
"We are certain that an excellent host city for the Olympic Winter Games 2026 will emerge from this process. The exploratory talks will also allow the IOC to better communicate about the benefits of the new candidature process for host cities, highlighting our reforms that make it possible to have sustainable, feasible and cost-effective Olympic Winter Games, aligned with the long-term development plans of the city and region."
Jon Tibbs, chairman and founder of JTA (Jon Tibbs Associates Limited), is an Olympic bid communications expert who recently worked with Los Angeles as the city secured the 2028 Summer Games.
He believes that while "the Innsbruck referendum is unfortunate it is by no means a disaster for the IOC. In my opinion Innsbruck went too early with their referendum and did not have sufficient detail on the budget implications for their electorate to consider."
Sion 2026 President Jean-Philippe Rochat echoed that sentiment in comments to ATR.
"The vote in Tirol shows how important it is to share as much information as possible with the population. As far as we are concerned, we will hold one or several referendums once all facts of the organizational and non-organizational budget, security costs, etc., are known. Only then will it be possible to convince the population that the Games can be a fantastic project for a region, at a reasonable cost."
"We will therefore continue to work on every single aspect of our project, costs linked to it and how these costs will be split up. We are optimistic that, thanks to the IOC experts and additional experts, we will be able to further optimize our project and offer a very good proposal to both our local population and the Olympic Movement," said Rochat.
Tibbs is confident that the Sion 2026 team will ensure that the Swiss population understands the benefits of hosting the Olympic Winter Games, adding that "Certainly the Lausanne 2020 Youth Olympic Games has shown that Switzerland can get behind a big Olympic project and that the Agenda 2020 message resonates well there.
"But perhaps there needs to be stronger communication by the IOC as to what Agenda 2020 really means and how tax-payers can benefit from the new Olympic philosophy. Whilst the current climate of sports' scandals doesn't help, I am sure things will improve once there is tangible evidence that Agenda 2020 can deliver local benefits to hosting communities," Tibbs added.
None of this talk of a brighter future is any solace to those who wanted to see the Olympics return to Austria and Innsbruck for the first time since 1976.
Rosie Pili, a sports event and management consultant, lives in Tirol and worked on the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games in Innsbruck.
"I am bitterly disappointed about the result of yesterday's referendum. From past experience, I know that Innsbruck could organize an amazing Winter Olympic Games," Pili tells ATR.
"The fact that every venue already exists meant the candidature would have been economically viable. Sadly this was the people's choice and now I cannot envisage the Winter Olympics coming to Austria in the near future."
Written by Gerard Farek
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