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2026 Winter Olympic host: Milan-Cortina

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Italy will host the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, with Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo winning an IOC vote over a Swedish-Latvian bid centered on Stockholm.

Milan-Cortina won with 47 votes to Stockholm–Åre’s 34 to become the first Olympics with multiple official host cities.

Italy boasted its public support (83 percent in a March IOC poll versus 55 percent in Sweden) and financial guarantees (Stockholm officials declined to sign the IOC’s host-city contract, leaving it to the smaller ski resort of Åre).

“I cannot look into the heads of my colleagues, but gathering a little bit the atmosphere when leaving the room, my assumption is that what was key and what finally made the difference was the gap in the public support,” said IOC President Thomas Bach, who was not among the voters. “This was, for many members, a clear signal. Public support offers goes hand in hand with political support. This was maybe also the reason then why the city of Stockholm was not ready to sign the host-city contract.”

The Games return to a traditional European site for the first time since Italy hosted in Torino in 2006 after Vancouver (2010), Sochi (2014), PyeongChang (2018) and Beijing (2022).

The two bids were left after five others dropped out for various reasons, all in 2018: Calgary, Canada; Erzurum, Turkey; Sapporo, Japan; Graz, Austria and Sion, Switzerland.

With the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games hosts both decided two years ago (Paris for 2024, Los Angeles for 2028), next up is the 2030 Winter Games. The U.S. has already said that if it bids, it will be with Salt Lake City, which held the 2002 Winter Olympics.

Italy will host the Winter Games for a third time after Cortina d’Ampezzo in 1956 and Torino in 2006.

Its bid presentation Monday included all three Italian 2018 Olympic champions speaking — Arianna Fontana (short track), Michela Moioli (snowboard cross) and Sofia Goggia (downhill). The presentation ended with 15-year-old short track speed skater Elisa Confortola addressing more than 80 IOC members.

Italy’s initial bid declaration in March 2018 was for a joint Milan-Torino candidate. Cortina was added within a week to make it a three-pronged bid. By September, Torino dropped out after political infighting, when a senior Italian official declared the bid “dead.” But the bid pressed on as Milan-Cortina, sites separated by more than 200 miles.

Sweden has finished second or third in all seven of its Winter Olympic bid votes, including six straight from 1984 through 2002, according to the OlyMADMen. Stockholm–Åre was trying to become the first Winter Games held in multiple countries, with Latvia holding bobsled, luge and skeleton. Sweden remains the nation with the most Winter Olympic gold medals yet to host a Winter Games.

“Our hope and expectation has been that the IOC would be ready to move from words to action and have confidence in Sweden’s ability to deliver the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games based on our proposal and vision,” Stockholm–Åre said in a press release. “We neither want, nor can present, a concept that involves major government grants and guarantees – or change the legislation – for a sports competition.”

The IOC praised how both bids fit with Agenda 2020 with 80 percent of the venues already existing or temporary and organizational budgets 20 percent lower than 2018 and 2022 cities.

More on the Milan-Cortina bid:

Proposed Dates: Feb. 6-22 (Olympics), March 6-15 (Paralympics)

Venues
Milan
 — Figure skating, hockey, short track
Cortina d’Ampezzo (220 miles northeast of Milan) — Alpine skiing (women), bobsled, luge, skeleton, curling, biathlon (Antholz)
Val di Fiemme (160 miles northeast of Milan) — Cross-country skiing, ski jumping, Nordic combined, speed skating (outdoors with roof plan)
Valtellina (85 miles northeast of Milan) — Alpine skiing (men, Bormio), freestyle skiing, snowboarding

Ceremonies
Opening Ceremony — San Siro (home of AC Milan and Inter Milan)
Closing Ceremony — Verona Arena (Roman amphitheatre 90 miles east of Milan)

Slogan
“Dreaming Together”

IOC Evaluation Group Report
“Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo combine the advantages of a big European city and those of a popular mountain resort region in the Italian Alps. The candidature benefits from the region’s strong winter sports history, tradition and experience, as well as the Italians’ love and passion for sport. The project can also leverage the economic strength and prosperity of the northern Italian region. While planning is still at an early stage, the project has the potential to achieve the long-term goals of the cities and the region in line with Olympic Agenda 2020/New Norm.”

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2026 Winter Olympic host vote set between Sweden, Italy; watch it live

2026 Winter Olympics
Stockholm-Are 2026, Milan-Cortina 2026
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Whether it’s Sweden or Italy, the 2026 Winter Olympic host will be the first of its kind.

The IOC votes Monday between bids from Stockholm-Åre and Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo. The announcement, after a morning of presentations, is scheduled for 12 p.m. ET as part of Olympic Channel: Home of Team USA’s live, commercial-free broadcast and streaming coverage (8-10 a.m. ET, 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m.).

It will be the first Olympics with multiple cities in the official name and the first Winter Games in a traditional European setting since Italy hosted in 2006 with Turin.

The IOC is pleased with these two finalists, four years after Beijing narrowly defeated Almaty, Kazakhstan, for the 2022 Winter Olympics.

IOC President Thomas Bach indicated before this bid process began that he wants to see the Winter Games return to a more traditional location. Then-USOC chairman Larry Probst said that was “code for Europe or North America.” The U.S., which has the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games, opted not to bid for 2026 but could go for 2030 with Salt Lake City.

With Sochi in 2014, PyeongChang in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, three straight Winter Games have been awarded to less traditional sites.

Sweden owns the most Winter Olympic gold medals of any nation yet to host a Winter Games. Italy hosted twice, in Cortina in 1956 before Turin in 2006.

CAPSULES: Stockholm-Åre | Milan-Cortina

But either winner, after five other candidates dropped out, could mark the beginning of an era.

With Bach’s Agenda 2020, passed in 2014, the IOC encouraged multiple cities (even multiple countries) to form single Olympic bids if it meant using more existing venues. That’s what we have for 2026 with two of the most spread-out plans in recent history.

Stockholm-Åre features venues across some 700 miles, from 200 miles south of the Arctic Circle in Åre to across the Baltic Sea in Sigulda, Latvia. It would be the first Winter Olympics to hold medal events in multiple countries.

That might have been a turn-off in the past, but contesting bobsled, luge and skeleton at an existing sliding track in Latvia is also in line with Agenda 2020. It saves millions of dollars (since Sweden does not have an existing track) and, as an IOC evaluation commission report stated in May, “would give Latvia an Olympic experience the country might not otherwise have the opportunity to enjoy.”

Milan–Cortina, like the Swedish bid, has four venue zones, but within a smaller overall area and all in the same country. It was for a time a three-pronged bid with Turin, which dropped out in September. Thirteen of its 14 competition sites are already existing or will be temporary venues.

The IOC reported 83 percent public support in Italy and 55 percent in favor in Sweden in March. Prime ministers for both nations are part of the delegations in Lausanne for Monday’s vote. Crown Princess Victoria, the heir apparent to Sweden’s head of state, is also expected.

Rob Livingstone, producer of GamesBids.com, which tracks Olympic host races, said each bid has its own set of obstacles and benefits.

“They’ve never been to Sweden before,” he said. “The Italian one is a little bit more challenging, just the way the venues are spread out. There’s no central footprint, even though Milan has taken the lead.

“In Sweden, even though they’re kind of also portraying a regional bid, most of the sports, or a lot of them, are going to be in Stockholm.”

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

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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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