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WILL OLYMPICS COME TO EUROPE AGAIN? - James Cove, PlanetSKI Editor
Monday June 11, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

As the voters in Switzerland reject a bid for the 2026 Games in Sion it seems very unlikely any time soon. Significant reforms are neeeded to the bidding process.





Make no mistake about it this is a severe blow to the Olympic movement. 

Not a fatal body blow, but a huge setback.

Many had wanted a winter Olympics back in the heart of the Alps. 

First Innsbruck in Austria said 'No Thanks' to 2026: 
Now the Swiss have said the same.

We reported on the Sion rejection over the weekend as the result was announced. 
Both areas are steeped in the traditions of wintersports, have plenty of existing infrastructure, sound finances and were seen as very able to hold any Winter Olympics.
The International Olympic Committee has put reforms in place to reduce costs and give direct benefits to host cities.  

The reforms were supposed to make it more attractive to hold the Games. 

It appears not to have worked, and here at PlanetSKI we believe the whole bidding process should be looked at again.

Perhaps the days of potential cities biding for the Games in some sort of highly expensive and unpopular beauty contest are over.

Some believe the International Olympic Committee should select candidate cities on their merit and then provide the funding themselves rather that relying on local tax payers potentially to foot the bill.

The Olympics host and pay for the event.

People seem to want their tax money spent on public services such as heath, education and infratructure, rather than lavish sporting events that appear to benefit the few and not the many.

Whatever the truth of this view it seems highly unlikley any future referendum in a European city will go in favour of a Winter Olympic bid as things currently stand.

That is not a good state of affairs for the winter sports we all love.

The IOC now needs to come up with a different way of awarding the Games and a different financial structure.

The timing of the vote at the weekend was helpful as last week it was announced that Pyeongchang 2018 had produced a surplus - this might have given voters the option to give the IOC the benefit of the doubt. 
Not so and some questioned the financial arithmetic.  

The IOC President, Thomas Bach, has made it a top-priority to change the image of the Olympics as being one fast running and highly efficient gravy-train for those Olympic sports administrators fortunate enough to be on it.  

The IOC has its headquarters in Lausanne in the Swiss canton of Vaud and it will be feeling the shockwaves coming from the neighbouring canton of the Valais after the weekend's result.  

Lausanne was even set to hold some events if Sion 2026 had succeeded - Olympic events held in the IOC's home city.  
 
So, why it is such a blow?  

There hasn't been a Winter Olympics in the Alps since Turin, Italy, in 2006 despite numerous cities expressing interest. 

The interested cities ended up withdrawing due to a lack of public support.  

The last time a referendum went in favour was for an Oslo bid in 2013 but it eventually faltered on a perceived lack of public support.

Turin 2006 was a largely forgettable affair that is recognised as producing little lasting legacy.  

Since then there has been interest from cities and politicians, but not from the voters who believe the Winter Olympics brings no tangible results, cost a small fortune and benefit an out-of-touch organisation.

The 2022 Games perhaps sums it up as bids from Oslo in Norway, Stockholm in Sweden, Krakow in Poland and Davos/Klosters in Switzerland all ended as there was not enough public support.

Here at PlanetSKI we raised the same question back in 2014
Munich and Barcelona had also expressed an interest too, but pulled out at the early stages due to a lack of public support.  

The bidding for 2022 finished as a two-horse race between Almaty in Kazakhstan and Beijing in China.  

Beijing won even though it has no snow and little history of snowsports.
The recent 2018 Games were held in Pyeongchang in South Korea, an area not known the world over for its snowsports.  

Some now genuinely fear the Winter Olympics will not be held in Europe in the coming years and if the people in North America are given the option of a vote then Canada and the USA are unlikely venues.

Calgary in Canada is looking at bidding for 2026 and Salt Lake City in the USA is eyeing up 2030.

There remains some European interest for 2026 with, a joint Italian bid from Milan, Turin and Cortina d'Ampezzo.  

Graz in Austria has shown interest but is seen as an outside chance after voters in Austria rejected supporting a bid from Innsbruck. 

Stockholm in Sweden has thrown its hat in the ring but after what happened last time round when it went for 2022 it would be a brave person to bet on a Swedish victory in 2019 when the victor is announced.  

The best bet for a European bid appears therefore to be the joint bid from Italy.  

Otherwsie there is just Erzurum in Turkey and Sapporo in Japan.

The IOC is due to approve official candidates at its Session in Buenos Aires in October before a host is chosen in September 2019.

It would be an optimistic person who predicted the Games will be held in Europe in February 2026.

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