June 24 (UPI) — Just 13 years after last hosting the Winter Olympic Games, Italy again won the quadrennial winter competition Monday for 2026 — only this time events will be split between Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.
At its 134th session in Switzerland, the International Olympic Committee voted between the Italian cities and another joint bid in Sweden, for Stockholm and Are. Italy’s bid won by a final vote of 47 to 34. The 2026 event will be the first time the Olympics are split between two major host cities.
“We can look forward to an outstanding and sustainable Olympic Winter Games in a traditional winter sports country,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “The passion and knowledge of Italian fans, together with experienced venue operators, will create the perfect atmosphere.”
Monday’s vote was originally set for Milan in September, but was moved to Switzerland Monday after the city became a finalist.
Italy will split the games between Milan, its second-largest city, and Cortina d’Ampezzo, the site of the 1956 Winter Games. The 2026 Winter Games are scheduled for Feb. 6-22 and the Paralympic Games March 6-15.
Italy will use six existing facilities, four that would be upgraded and a new ice hockey arena. Long term, the ice arena would be used as a multi-sport arena, National Olympic Committee of Italy President Giovanni Malago told UPI before Monday’s election.
(The IOC did not award the 2030 Olympics, as some anticipated, leaving the games open for a United States bid. The U.S. Olympic Committee has previously expressed interest in bidding Salt Lake City again. The Utah city hosted the games in 2002.)
Italy’s proposed total budget for the games is $1.7 billion — far less than the $51 billion Russia spent to host the 2014 Winter Olympics. Sochi’s high cost is believed by some to have scared off other cities from bidding for 2026. Cities that explored a bid but ultimately dropped out are 1988 host Calgary, Canada; 1972 host Sapporo, Japan; Graz, Austria; Erzurum, Turkey; and three-time candidate Sion, Switzerland.
The bids for the 2026 games were 75 percent lower than the average budgets for the 2018 and 2022 candidates, the IOC said.
“We want to make history. We are ready,” Malago said.
“There is institutional support at every level, not only from the two host cities … The entire country is behind us.”
Much like the failed Swedish bid, the two Italian host cities aren’t geographically close — Cortina d’Ampezzo is 220 miles northeast of Milan.
“They are spread out over the territory to exploit the existing resources with the goal of creating virtuous synergies, drastically reducing costs and directing the investments,” Malago said.
The IOC did not award the 2030 Olympics, as some anticipated, leaving the games open for a United States bid. The U.S. Olympic Committee has previously expressed interest in bidding Salt Lake City again. The Utah city hosted the games in 2002.
Had Stockholm won, it would’ve become just the second city to host both the Summer (1912) and Winter games. Beijing remains the only city with that distinction, having hosted the 2008 Summer Olympics and on track to host the 2022 Winter Games.