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Stockholm 2026 Winter Olympic bid in trouble

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Stockholm’s bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics is at risk only three days after the IOC formally approved the city among three candidates.

A new coalition deal announced Friday to run Stockholm’s city government, between a center-right alliance and environmentalists, requires no taxpayer funding for a Winter Games.

“The starting point for all our parties has been to ensure that a Winter Olympics should not be on the taxpayers to pay for it,” coalition member Karin Ernlund said.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it had “not yet had any official confirmation of the decision.”

If Stockholm drops out, the IOC will be left with Calgary, Canada, and the combined Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

A vote of IOC members is scheduled in June, the Olympic body said Tuesday when formalizing the 2026 contest, though there is uncertainty for the entire field.

Calgary’s bid faces a Nov. 13 referendum, and full government support is also not guaranteed in Italy.

Amid widespread public concern at Olympic hosting costs, IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. said this week: “We have to make a huge effort in explaining ourselves better.”

Stockholm could return for a bid for 2030 or beyond, city lawmakers said.

“It is missing a clear basis for a Winter Olympics right now,” said Anna Konig Jerlmyr of Sweden’s Moderate party, “but everyone wants to have it in the future so the question is when.”

Stockholm’s bid plan has nearly half the medal events at least two hours outside of the city.

All but three medal events in Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard are in Åre (400 miles northwest of Stockholm), ski jumping and Nordic combined are in Falun (140 miles northwest) and bobsled, skeleton and luge in Latvia.

Stockholm hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and equestrian events for the 1956 Melbourne Games. Sweden owns the second-most winter medals of any nation yet to host a Winter Games, behind Finland.

Between 1984 and 2002, Swedish bids finished second or third in every Winter Olympic host vote (Gothenburg 1984, Falun 1988, Falun 1992, Ostersund 1994, Ostersund 1998 and Ostersund 2002).

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IOC group proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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International Olympic Committee members will decide next month whether to tweak the definition of an Olympic host to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in announcing the IOC’s executive board approved the measure. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

It’s one of six proposed changes by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates to examine the bid process. Another is to make the timing of Olympic host city elections more flexible. Typically, hosts are elected seven years before the Games, though two years ago an exception was made in the double awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Bach repeated that the proposals are “to avoid producing too many losers as we had it in the past candidature procedures.”

The IOC previously said in 2014, in announcing Agenda 2020, that it “will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

This shift manifests in Stockholm’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid plan to have sliding sports in Sigulda, Latvia, home of the nearest existing track for bobsled, luge and skeleton, rather than building a costly new track in Sweden.

IOC members will vote to choose the 2026 Winter Games host next month. The finalists are Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, after five other potential candidates were dropped for various reasons.

There is precedent for events held far from the Olympic host city. In 1956, Melbourne held the Summer Games and had equestrian events in Stockholm due to quarantine laws in Australia. Similarly, equestrian at the 2008 Beijing Games was held in Hong Kong.

Soccer matches are often held in cities across the host country. Recent Winter Olympics have had mountain events in a different city or area than arena events.

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IOC board recommends AIBA suspension, boxing stays in Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended that AIBA has its recognition as boxing’s international federation suspended but that the sport remains on the Olympic program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An IOC decision on the recommendation will be made next month. The IOC created a group to organize 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying and competition if AIBA will not be allowed to run it.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”

The IOC said in October that boxing’s place in the Olympics was “under threat” after being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games and held at every Games since except Stockholm 1912.

In November, the IOC ordered an inquiry into AIBA, which has been in financial turmoil, faced claims of fixed bouts at the Rio Games and elected a president linked to organized crime.

That president, Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov, stepped aside in March to let an interim leader take charge but said he was not resigning. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to an organized crime group in former Soviet Union republics involved in heroin trafficking. He denies any wrongdoing.

“Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” the inquiry committee concluded. “AIBA has been unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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