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MORE TROUBLE AHEAD FOR 2026 OLYMPIC BIDS? - Jane Peel, Chief Reporter
Thursday July 5, 2018 - Email this article to a friend

Bad news this week for potential bidders for the next but one Winter Games. One has announced a referendum and another has seen a fall in public support. NEW


And all as the International Olympic Committee announced its new Host City Contract which reduces demands on hosts and promises them more financial support.

The latest city to put its case to a referendum is Graz in Styria, Austria, which only entered the 2026 bidding process earlier this year after voters in the Tirol threw out a bid from Innsbruck.

The regional Parliament approved the state-wide vote - probably to take place in late September - after a petition exceeded the minimum number of signatures.

Graz 2026Graz 2026 bid will go to a referendum


















The Mayor of Graz, Siegfried Nagl, told InsideTheGames that he was disappointed but confident of public support.

"I fight for something, others want to be against something," he said.

"I hope that the Styrians decide with vision, the result is binding for me."

But three previous bids for the 2026 Games have been derailed by referendums with the public apparently preferring the money to be spent elsewhere.

The most recent to fall was Sion in Switzerland in June:

An earlier Swiss bid, which would have seen events held in Davos and St Moritz, was scuppered by voters in the Graübunden canton in Feburary 2017.

And in October last year, the people of the Tirol decisively rejected plans for the Winter Games to return to Innsbruck for a third time:

It led us to question the future of the Games in Europe:

Bidders outside Europe are also reportedly facing their own difficulties.

Calgary in Canada, which hosted the 1998 Winter Olympics, will put its bid to the public later this year, possibly in November.

Calgary 2026 yes campaignCalgary 2026 - photo Yes Calgary campaign











The latest opinion survey suggests falling support.

The poll of Alberta residents, which was carried out in June for CBC News, suggests that 50 per cent support the bid, a drop of seven per cent since March.

"That's statistically significant," the pollster told CBC.

"I think that really says something about some of the concerns that are bubbling up for Calgarians about this bid."

An opposition group 'No Calgary Olympics' has launched a campaign to discover how residents of the Canadian city would rather spend the estimated CAD$4.6 billion (£2.7 billion) proposed for the Olympics.

"Given where the province is at this time, we just don't feel that spending this money on what is essentially a two-week party is a really great idea," the campaign founder David Gauld told the Calgary Herald.

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will make a final decision on the 2026 Winter Olympics in September 2019.

IOC HQ, LausanneIOC HQ















Those still in the race are Graz, Calgary, Sapporo in Japan, Erzurum in Turkey, Stockholm in Sweden and three in Italy - Milan, Turin and Cortina d'Ampezzo.

The Italians had originally planned a joint bid but now it's clear that the three cities will go it alone.

Each has submitted feasibility studies to the Italian National Olympic Committee which will decide between them on 10th July.

Turin held the Winter Olympics in 2006 and says it would aim to use many of the same venues, with the alpine skiing again held in Sestriere.

SestriereSestriere, Italy
















Earlier this week the IOC published its new Host City Contract, detailing the requirements for hosts and intended to reduce both the complexity and cost of running a Games.

"More than ever, the requirements strengthen the IOC's ongoing effort to support hosts in delivering cost-effective, successful and legacy-enhancing Olympic and Paralympic Games," the IOC said in a statement.

The IOC has pledged to contribute £704 million to the city that wins the 2026 Games - up from the £670 million given to Beijing 2022.

It also claims that its reforms could save cities £359 million from the costs of staging a Winter Olympics.

Will it be enough to convince a doubting public?

Who knows?

A claim from the Pyeongchang 2018 organisers that their Games had actually returned a profit - a claim since greeted with some scepticism - was made just before the people of Sion gave a firm NO to the Games in their referendum.

Pyeongchang 2018Pyeongchang 2018 is said to have made a profit

2026 is not the first Winter Olympics to experience problems attracting hosts.

There were similar problems with the 2022 Games which will be held in Beijing.

The people of Oslo, Stockholm and Krakow were among those who pulled the plug on bids, leaving the IOC a choice of only Almaty in Kazakhstan and Beijing in China.

D-Day for the IOC is 14 months away.

Anyone care to bet on how many candidates for 2026 will still be in the race by then?

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