IOC of­fi­cial ‘very happy’ with pos­si­ble Inns­bruck 2026 bid

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Inns­bruck would have “an ex­cel­lent chance” of host­ing the 2026 Winter Olympics if the Aus­trian city de­cides to bid for the games, a top IOC of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day.

In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee ex­ec­u­tive board mem­ber Gian Franco Kasper told The As­so­ci­ated Press that Inns­bruck would need to join with other cities — prob­a­bly Salzburg and venues in Italy or Ger­many — to be able to stage all events.

“They will have to find prob­a­bly some part­ners. Nowa­days it’s pos­si­ble with the new Agenda 2020,” Kasper said, re­fer­ring to the IOC’s re­form pro­gram that al­lows more flex­i­bil­ity in host­ing the games, in­clud­ing the pos­si­bil­ity of us­ing venues in other cities, and even in neigh­bor­ing coun­tries.

“They can go to north­ern Italy, to Bolzano for in­stance, with ice hockey,” Kasper said. “They could go to Mu­nich also with (events on) ice. They could go to Salzburg, which is another pos­si­bil­ity. All the out­door sports can be done in Inns­bruck di­rectly. That could be good games.”

Kasper, who is pres­i­dent of the In­ter­na­tional Ski Fed­er­a­tion, spoke a day af­ter Aus­trian of­fi­cials an­nounced a fea­si­bil­ity study into a pos­si­ble Inns­bruck bid.

He said he’s “very happy” with the ini­tia­tive by the Aus­trian Olympic Com­mit­tee, the city of Inns­bruck and the prov­ince of Ty­rol, who jointly an­nounced the study into fi­nan­cial, in­fras­truc­tural and eco­nomic as­pects of a po­ten­tial can­di­dacy.

Inns­bruck has hosted the Winter Games twice, in 1964 and 1976. Since then, Aus­tria had sev­eral failed bids, most re­cently with Salzburg for the 2014 Games.

If the fea­si­bil­ity study is pos­i­tive out­come, a ref­er­en­dum will be held.

Lack of pub­lic sup­port has re­cently been a stum­bling block for many po­ten­tial bid cities. In Aus­tria, Vi­enna back­tracked from plans to bid for the 2024 or 2028 Sum­mer Olympics af­ter a vast ma­jor­ity of its in­hab­i­tants voted against.

For var­i­ous rea­sons, all Euro­pean can­di­dates quit the race to host the 2022 Winter Games, which were awarded to Beijing. Po­ten­tial bids from Ger­many and Switzer­land were ear­lier re­jected in ref­er­en­dums.

With the 2018 Games tak­ing place in South Korea, Europe seems in a strong po­si­tion for 2026, which would be its first Winter Games in two decades.

“The IOC, and es­pe­cially pres­i­dent Thomas Bach, has in­di­cated to us in sev­eral meet­ings that bids from tra­di­tional winter sports ar­eas, who have decade-long ex­pe­ri­ence with stag­ing big events, have good prospects,” Aus­trian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Karl Stoss said.

“Inns­bruck is pre­des­tined for sus­tain­able, lik­able games as it proved once again with the Youth Olympics in 2012,” Stoss added.

The IOC will accept bids for the 2026 Olympics next year, with the host to be cho­sen in 2019.

Canada, Swe­den, Switzer­land and Ukraine have also ex­pressed in­ter­est in bid­ding.

“I wouldn’t say it’s Europe’s turn (in 2026),” Kasper said. “We have been in Asia three times with Sum­mer and Winter Games but Sap­poro is also can­di­date for 2026. Sap­poro is in Asia of course but has a good chance, too. We will have another four, five can­di­dates, so we’ll see.”

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