2026 Winter Olympics
IOC

Italy edges Sweden in public support in 2026 Olympic host study

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GENEVA (AP) — The Italian bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo looked stronger than the Stockholm-Are project in an IOC analysis of the candidates published Friday.

Polling by the International Olympic Committee, which typically looks to get a warm welcome from host nations, showed “83% support in Italy” and “55% in favor in Sweden.”

The evaluation report said the Swedish bid team “considers such figures to be high in the Swedish context.”

The 144-page document was produced for IOC members, with about 90 of them set to pick the winner on June 24 in Lausanne.

Italian public authorities have provided more financial guarantees than in Sweden to underwrite billions of dollars in operating and security costs. Regional authorities in Lombardy and Veneto — “two of the wealthiest regions of Italy” — are the “driving forces behind the candidature,” the report said.

The Swedish bid lacked “binding venue funding guarantees” for the athletes village in Stockholm and the two new sports arenas planned, for speed skating and a venue to be shared by cross-country skiing and biathlon. The IOC evaluation team suggested using existing ski venues in Falun and Ostersund.

The Italian bid has private funding in Milan for the only new arena, for hockey, and an athletes village being built as “much-needed housing” for university students. Both projects are planned to be built regardless of the hosting vote result.

The IOC report also said Stockholm is “not an official Host City,” with authorities in the ski resort Are signing key Olympic contracts.

With a strong emphasis on cutting costs by using existing venues, the Olympic report is positive about using a bobsled course in Sigulda, Latvia.

“This would give Latvia an Olympic experience the country might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy,” the report said about the venue 285 miles from Stockholm across the Baltic Sea.

“An Olympic Winter Games in Sweden would feature athletes competing in first-rate venues packed with knowledgeable and passionate fans, including many from Nordic countries,” the report said.

Italy also was highlighted for its “passionate fans, knowledgeable volunteers and skilled event organizers (which) would all combine to deliver an outstanding winter sports experience.”

IOC experts did suggest cutting Bormio as one of the two Alpine ski venues to ease possible logistics issues.

For the second straight Winter Games vote, the IOC has been left with only two candidates. Beijing won narrowly over Almaty, Kazakhstan, to get the 2022 Olympics after several contenders withdrew lacking public support for a project widely seen as too expensive.

Two European candidates for 2026 remain after contenders including Graz, Austria; Calgary, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; and Sion, Switzerland, all dropped out. The IOC also eliminated the Turkish bid of Erzurum from the contest.

MORE: IOC proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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Eliud Kipchoge sets next marathon

Eliud Kipchoge
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Eliud Kipchoge will race the London Marathon on April 26 before he is expected to defend his Olympic title in Japan on Aug. 9, which would mark the shortest break between marathons of his career.

Kipchoge, who in his last 26.2-mile effort became the first person to break two hours at the distance, won all four of his London Marathon starts, including breaking the course record in 2016 and 2019.

His time this past April 28 — 2:02:37 — is the third-fastest time in history. Kipchoge has the world record of 2:01:39 set at the 2018 Berlin Marathon. His sub-two-hour marathon in Vienna on Oct. 12 was not in a record-eligible race.

Kipchoge’s previous shortest break between marathons came in 2016, when he also ran London and the Olympics. The Olympics will be two weeks earlier in 2020 than in 2016.

Kipchoge, 35, has won 11 of 12 marathons since moving to road racing after failing to make Kenya’s 2012 Olympic track team.

He has yet to race the two most prestigious marathons in the U.S. — Boston and New York City — but has said they are on his bucket list.

MORE: Eliud Kipchoge opines on shoe technology debate

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Canadians become first female doubles luge team in World Cup

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WHISTLER, British Columbia (AP) — Caitlin Nash and Natalie Corless made luge history Saturday, becoming the first female team to compete in a World Cup doubles race.

The 16-year-olds from Whistler combined to finish 22nd in a field of 23 sleds, though that seemed largely irrelevant. There have been four-woman teams in what is typically called four-man bobsledding, but luge has never seen a pairing like this until now.

The German sled of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken won the race in 1 minute, 16.644 seconds. Germany’s Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt finished second and the Russian team of Vsevolod Kashkin and Konstantin Korshunov placed third for their first medal of the season.

The U.S. team of Chris Mazdzer and Jayson Terdiman placed 11th.

But the story was the Canadian teens, who qualified for the World Cup event on Thursday. They were nearly a half-second behind any other finisher and almost 2.7 seconds back of Eggert and Benecken. But they’ll forever be able to say that they were winning the race at one point — a technicality because they were the first ones down the hill at the Whistler Sliding Center, but accurate nonetheless.

The only sled they beat was the Italian team of Ivan Nagler and Fabian Malleier, who crashed in the second heat.

There are women’s singles and men’s singles races on the World Cup luge circuit, but there is no rule saying doubles teams must be composed of two men. There have been more female doubles racers at the junior level in recent years, and it was generally considered to be just a matter of time before it happened at the World Cup level.

That time became Saturday.

Canada had the chance to qualify a second sled into the doubles field because some teams typically on the circuit chose to skip this weekend’s stop, and Nash and Corless got into by successfully finishing a Nations Cup qualifying race on Thursday.

They were 11th in that race out of 11 sleds, more than a full second behind the winner and nearly a half-second behind the closest finisher. But all they had to do was cross the line without crashing to get into Saturday’s competition, and earned their spot in the luge history books as a result.

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MORE: Top U.S. bobsled driver pregnant, to miss season