MARIA PIA BELTRAN / AIPS —- LAUSANNE: The Winter Olympic Games will return to Italy in 2026, precisely 20 years after Turin welcomed the world of ice and snow sport.

A combined bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo made up for years of Olympic bid blundering by the Italians at the IOC Session in Lausanne. The winning margin was 47 to 34 against Stockholm-Are whose bid had always been shrouded by an apparent public lack of enthusiasm.

Milan-Cortina 2026 had followed the essential statements and demonstrations of loyalty to Olympic Agenda 2020 by focusing on sustainability, the competitors and legacy. Equally, if not more, important the Italian proposal featured the use of 95pc of existing plus temporary facilities.

IOC president Thomas Bach (right) joins the Milan-Cortina bid team's celebrations

The 2022 party will be staged in Beijing, the first city to play host to both summer and winter Games.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “It’s a great day for the IOC, because we will have the Olympic games in a country with a great experience in Winter Sport, a unique passion and love for their amazing athletes.

“I was impressed today by [the presentations of] both the candidatures: both were aligned with the reforms of Olympic Agenda. I can say that the popular support of the Italians for this candidature may have made the difference.

Cost cutting

“Apart from the fact that the average costs were cut down to 75pc compared with previous candidatures, the Italian population displayed 83pc of consensus about hosting this Games. We will contribute to the success of this Games with $925m to facilitate the preparation of this great partnership”.

Italy’s Under-Secretary of State, Gianfranco Giorgetti, said that from now on Milano-Cortina 2026 slogan will change from  ‘Dreaming together’ to “Working together”.

Olympic committee president Giovanni Malagò’s thought that late changes to the presentation may have proved decisive.

He said:  “We have decided to leave our young women athletes at the end of the presentation and I am pretty convinced they have moved more than one or two votes: Olympic Champions Arianna Fontana, Sofia Goggia and Michela Moioli and the young hope Elisa Confortona (17 years old)  were the secret weapon of a passionate and enthusiastic presentation that wanted to put the athletes at the centre of the event.”

Previous failures had included Rome’s bid for the 2024 Olympic Games back in 2016.

But Milan mayor Beppe Sala thought the difference was in outcome was partly down the difference between the cities.

‘No rubbish here’

He said: “Milan and Rome are so different, in terms of public transportation, waste collection, medicine and many more aspects, we have made progress in the last 20 years and have had the opportunity to test this progress with the Milan Expo 2015.

“Milan is more solid, we have been working for the city and we will keeping doing it: my mandate will end in 2021 but I can run for a second term finishing in May 2026, we’ll see, but let me say that our country needs Rome and we are fully committed to work together for this result”.

Malagò added:  “This win counts for much not only for me, but for the whole country. I am really proud of this fantastic team that we created all together without any differences of party or political colours.”

IOC statement:

Milan-Cortina, Italy, will host the Olympic Winter Games 2026. The decision was taken today during the 134th Session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The other candidate in the ballot was Stockholm-Åre, Sweden.

IOC president Thomas Bach said: “Congratulations to Milan-Cortina. We can look forward to outstanding and sustainable Olympic Winter Games in a traditional winter sports country. The passion and knowledge of Italian fans, together with experienced venue operators, will create the perfect atmosphere for the best athletes in the world. The Olympic Winter Games Milan-Cortina 2026 will feature iconic venues and beautiful settings, combining the attractions of a modern European metropolis with a classic Alpine environment.”

He added: “The new Candidature Process has demonstrated the success of Olympic Agenda 2020. We have lowered the cost and complexity of developing Games projects, which now serve the long-term development goals of the host communities and have sustainability and legacy at their hearts. This has led to a significantly reduced organisation budget and the use of 93 per cent existing or temporary competition venues. I also want to thank Stockholm-Åre for presenting an excellent candidature and being part of the Candidature Process for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”

Italy is a sport-loving nation, and winter sports are part of the tradition, culture and identity of Northern Italy. The region has world-class winter sports venues, ranging from the ice arenas of Milan to the well-established and iconic World Cup and World Championship destinations of Cortina, Bormio, Antholz and Val di Fiemme.

The plan is fully in line with the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, which call for making maximum use of existing and temporary venues if there is no post-Games demand for new permanent facilities.

With regard to competition venues, Milan-Cortina 2026 prioritises sustainability and legacy, as 13 out of a total 14 facilities (93 per cent) will be existing or temporary.

The project has the unified backing of the Italian sports movement, the private sector and national, regional and city governments – providing a solid foundation for its delivery.

It features a clear vision to use the Games as a catalyst to boost economic development across Northern Italy, including supporting the regions to achieve their specific tourism goals, and to stimulate economic activities between the metropolitan and mountain areas.

The Candidature Process 2026 has been built on increased partnership, flexibility and sharing of knowledge. It featured a new one-year non-committal Dialogue Stage in which the IOC, together with the International Olympic Winter Sports Federations and the wider Olympic Movement, worked hand in hand with Interested Cities and National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to help them explore options and develop Games projects.

As part of the new process, the IOC provided increased technical services to each Interested City, while lowering the number of Candidate City deliverables and presentations.

The result is a significant cost reduction in the candidature budgets, projected to be more than 75 per cent lower than the average budgets for the 2018 and 2022 candidates.

In addition, the proposed Games operating budgets were on average 20 per cent lower than those of the Candidate Cities for the Olympic Winter Games 2018 and 2022.

The IOC Session decision means Milan-Cortina will also host the Paralympic Winter Games 2026.