Mi­lan-Cortina joint bid could help rev­o­lu­tion­ize Olympics

The News & Observer - - Sports - BY AN­DREW DAMPF

It starts with the name – fea­tur­ing two cities as op­posed to the usual one – and in­volves venues dot­ted across a large swath of north­ern Italy stretch­ing from Mi­lan to the Dolomites.

The Mi­lan-Cortina bid for the 2026 Olympics has the po­ten­tial to rev­o­lu­tion­ize the Win­ter Games and leave a new blue­print for the fu­ture.

It’s the first can­di­dacy to fully em­brace re­forms de­manded by IOC Pres­i­dent Thomas Bach, seek­ing to cut costs and ease tax­payer con­cerns in the af­ter­math of Rus­sia’s $51 bil­lion spend­ing to pre­pare for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

“We’re the fore­run­ner and we take pride in that fact,” Ital­ian Olympic Com­mit­tee pres­i­dent Gio­vanni Malago said in an in­ter­view with The As­so­ci­ated Press on Fri­day, the same day that bid books were sent to the IOC.

The Mi­lan-Cortina can­di­dacy takes ad­van­tage of the more flex­i­ble rules pro­vided by Bach’s re­forms.

The bid pro­poses to hold fig­ure skat­ing, hockey and short-track speed­skat­ing in Mi­lan; slid­ing sports and curl­ing in 1956 host Cortina; and speed­skat­ing, biathlon and Nordic sports in Trentino-Alto Adige.

Alpine ski­ing would be di­vided be­tween Bormio (men) and Cortina (women), and only one venue would need to be built from scratch – an arena in Mi­lan.

The open­ing cer­e­mony would be at the 80,000seat San Siro in Mi­lan, with the clos­ing at Verona’s Arena, a large Ro­man am­phithe­ater.

“With­out Agenda 2020 (Bach’s re­form pack­age) we would not have been able to bid,” Malago said.

The only other re­main­ing can­di­date for 2026 is Stock­holm, which pro­poses to hold slid­ing events in Latvia. Fol­low­ing Mi­lan-Cortina’s lead, Stock­holm an­nounced on Fri­day that it, too, was adding a sec­ond name to its bid. It’s now called “Stock­holm Are 2026,” with Alpine ski­ing events tak­ing place in the re­sort of Are, 336 miles north­west of the Swedish cap­i­tal.

The IOC is sched­uled to se­lect the host cities in June.

“It wouldn’t sur­prise me if in the fu­ture there is a two-na­tion bid,” Malago said.

Christophe Dubi, the Olympic Games ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor, said the IOC “should con­sider re­gional bids,” adding, “we could brand the games dif­fer­ently by the name of a re­gion.”

The Ital­ian bid was orig­i­nally slated to also in­clude Turin be­fore the 2006 host was left out amid a po­lit­i­cal squab­ble. But Malago left room for Turin to move back into con­sid­er­a­tion with its speed­skat­ing oval.

“This is the dossier for now and we’re con­vinced we can win with this dossier,” Malago said. “But re­cent his­tory shows us that new op­por­tu­ni­ties arise once you’ve been as­signed the games.”

Tokyo, which will host the up­com­ing 2020 Sum­mer Games, has changed or al­tered nearly a third of the venues from its orig­i­nal bid – and its bud­get has more than dou­bled.

Mi­lan-Cortina plans for a bud­get of $1.7 bil­lion, over half of which would be cov­ered by IOC con­tri­bu­tions.

Italy is anx­ious to bring a bid through the en­tire process af­ter two Rome can­di­da­cies were with­drawn.

Three years ago, Italy was forced to end Rome’s bid for the 2024 Sum­mer Olympics be­cause of staunch op­po­si­tion from the city’s mayor.

And in 2012, then-pre­mier Mario Monti scrapped the city’s can­di­dacy for the 2020 Olympics be­cause of fi­nan­cial con­cerns.

Malago would not even con­sider the pos­si­bil­ity of an­other re­jec­tion.

“There will not be an­other ‘No’ be­cause the boat has al­ready left the port,” he said. “Other coun­tries don’t have our volatil­ity in terms of say­ing yes or no. But they have a dif­fer­ent prob­lem – ref­er­en­dums. And I’m not sure which one is worse.”

Cal­gary was also in the run­ning for 2026 un­til it with­drew af­ter vot­ers re­jected the bid in a ref­er­en­dum. Like­wise, a half­dozen Euro­pean bid­ders with­drew from con­tention for the 2022 Win­ter Games. They were awarded to Bei­jing, which won by four votes over Al­maty, Kaza­khstan.

The big­gest con­cern for Mi­lan-Cortina might be an on­go­ing con­flict with the govern­ment over the distri­bu­tion of fi­nan­cial fund­ing for do­mes­tic sports.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.