Turkey joins 2026 Winter Olympic bidders

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Turkey is the latest nation to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, according to Turkish media.

Erzurum is the reported bid city, a provincial capital in Eastern Turkey with about 400,000 people. The Turkish Olympic Committee has not responded to a request for confirmation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last April the country was considering a bid including Erzurum.

Turkey has never bid for a Winter Olympics nor hosted a Summer or Winter Games. Istanbul bid for the Summer Olympics in 2000, 2004, 2008, 2012 and 2020, coming as close as runner-up to Tokyo for 2020.

If successful, Turkey could become the third nation to host a Winter Olympics with no prior Winter Olympic medals. The others were Yugoslavia in 1984 and France at the first Winter Games in 1924.

Turkey’s best-ever Winter Olympic finish was 15th (out of 15 teams) in the 1998 men’s cross-country skiing relay, according to the OlyMADMen.

Italy declared a joint Milan-Torino bid earlier this week ahead of this weekend’s deadline.

The IOC said last month that four other cities entered the initial dialogue phase for potential 2026 Olympic bids: Calgary, Stockholm, Sion, Switzerland and Sapporo, Japan.

An Austrian bid has also been reported but not formally announced by the IOC.

Bids could hinge on public votes, which led to the demise of recent Summer and Winter Games bids.

IOC president Thomas Bach has said he hopes the Winter Olympics can return to a more traditional location after PyeongChang 2018 and Beijing 2022, which USOC chairman Larry Probst called “code for Europe or North America.”

The U.S. prefers to bid for the 2030 Olympics — with one of Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Tahoe — but would consider bidding earlier if the 2026 and 2030 Olympics will be awarded together like the 2024 and 2028 Games were to Paris and Los Angeles last year. A double vote appears unlikely at this point.

The 2026 Olympic host city is set to be chosen via IOC members vote in September 2019 in Milan.

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