The Winter Olympics will return to Western Europe for the first time in 20 years after it was announced that Milan-Cortina, Italy, will host the 2026 Games. The decision was taken yesterday during the 134th session of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) in Lausanne, Switzerland. The other candidate in the ballot was Stockholm-Åre, Sweden. The last Western European Winter Olympics were staged in Turin in 2006, also in Italy.
“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,” said IOC President Thomas Bach.
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. With regard to competition venues, Milan-Cortina 2026 prioritizes sustainability and legacy, as 13 out of a total of 14 facilities will be existing or temporary.
Originally more than 20 cities or regions expressed an interest in bidding with seven making it through to the later stages, including Big Sky, MT and Park City, UT. Calgary (Canada), Sapporo (Japan) and Graz (Austria) all withdrew from the process last year whilst Erzurum (Turkey) was not asked to proceed and a local referendum at Sion in Switzerland voted to reject a bid from there.
Before then though, we have the 2022 games to look forward to in Beijing!