By Karolos Grohmann
BUENOSAIRES (Reuters) – The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has no backup plan for the 2026 Winter Games if more cities drop out of the race, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Saturday.
Calgary, Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Cortina D’Ampezzo and Milan made the IOC shortlist this week, with Turkey’s Erzurum dropped.
But all three bids face major obstacles that could potentially end their candidacies.
Calgary has planned a non-binding plebiscite in November which could bury the Canadian bid to host the winter Olympics for the second time since 1988 as early as next month.
The Italian bid and Stockholm have both struggled with getting crucial government support for their projects, while Torino pulled out of the Italian bid over project differences.
Three other cities — Austria’s Graz, Switzerland’s Sion and Japan’s Sapporo — have dropped out in recent months, scared off by the size and cost of the Games or after facing strong local opposition to the bids.
“There is no Plan B and we will not enter into any speculation,” Bach told reporters when asked about what the IOC would do if more cities dropped out ahead of next year’s vote for the 2026 Games host.
Bach said although there was a need to continue with cost-reducing measures for the Olympics, especially the Winter Games, there was still strong demand for them.
“We have more than a dozen sports who would like to join Olympic program,” he said in the Argentine capital ahead of the opening ceremony of the Youth Olympics.
“Quite a number of interested cities, big number of interested cities (for the 2032 summer Games). We should not be worried for the future.”
Indonesia, North and South Korea and India, among other, have expressed an interest in bidding for the 2032 Olympics.
Tokyo will stage the 2020 summer Games, Beijing will host the 2022 winter Olympics while Paris and Los Angeles will organise the 2024 and the 2028 summer editions respectively.
“What is true is we have to continue our efforts, particularly with regard to winter sports, to be more flexible in order to reduce costs, avoid construction of sports facilities that have no legacy,” Bach said.
The IOC will no longer demand the construction of new sliding centres for luge and bobsleigh for future Olympics — apart from Beijing 2022 — as it looks to cut costs and make the Games more attractive to potential hosts.
“The same goes for the ski jumping. There is no need for further (new) ski jumping venues for the Olympics,” he said.
“We have made good progress in this respect.”
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann, editing by Ed Osmond)