BERLIN (Reuters) - Stockholm's bid for the 2026 winter Olympics has political backing, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday ahead of an evaluation visit prior to the June vote.
Stockholm is competing against an Italian bid of Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo after other cities pulled out with concerns over cost, size of the event, or opposition from locals.
The Swedish project, which includes competitions in the Are ski resort, does not have clear local and central government support yet, while the Stockholm city government is worried over potential use of taxpayers' money.
But Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games Executive Director at the International Olympic Committee (IOC), said the signals were "very reassuring" with regards official backing.
"The talks with every level of government are in the right direction... We see very strong support from the government," he said in a conference call ahead of next week's IOC visit to Sweden.
Dubi said a set of IOC reforms aimed at reducing costs, construction and size among other aspects, were being enforced fully for the first time with the two 2026 Games bidders, and the bids were more tailored to the local population.
The Italian bid is facing similar problems with fragmented political support at the moment.
Stockholm-Are 2026 bid CEO Richard Brisius said political backing was on track with the requirements of the IOC.
"We have received assurances in the most positive way. The prime minister of Sweden was in the media a few weeks ago saying how he supports the project. It was echoed in all our discussions. It is all on track," Brisius said on the same conference call.
"We have all the support requested at this stage."
Swiss city Sion, Japan's Sapporo, Austria's Graz and 1988 hosts Calgary in Canada all withdrew last year, while Turkey's Erzurum was eliminated from the bidding process by the IOC.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)