While not exactly as popular as the original summer version, especially because it tends to feature less competing countries because of the uncommon nature of its playing medium, the Winter Olympics are still an Olympic Games. That means the right to host it can be a fierce competition for nations with an appropriate snowy locale on the right time of year. While the host of the next Winter Olympics is already confirmed – Beijing, China – the International Olympic Committee (IOC) always makes arrangements well in advance. That being said, the host city for the 2026 Winter Games was recently announced: Italy.
CNN reports that, with the final applicants for the 2026 Winter Olympics brought down to just two, the IOC has selected the dual-location bid of Milan and Cortina in Italy to be the host. The decision was announced by the Committee president Thomas Bach on Monday, June 24. With this, the Winter Games will be held again in Europe in the coming years, following Five Olympics (three Summer, two Winter which were both in Asian cities) and 12 years of waiting after the 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia. It is also a repeat performance for the town of Cortina d’Ampezzo, which was the solo host for the 1956 Winter Games.
The bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics began in 2017 with about seven bids. But over the course of 2018 five of the bids withdrew from the running: Calgary in Canada, Sapporo of Japan, Austria’s own Graz, the Swiss town of Sion, and a first-time Winter bid by Turkey for Erzurum. Only Milan-Cortina and the Swedish double-bid of Stockholm-Åre remained for the Committee to vote on. This is symptomatic of the current trend in Olympic host selection wherein the final candidates rarely exceed two, followed by quick withdrawals by other candidate bids for the contention.
On his announcement of the International Olympic Committee’s decision, Thomas Bach remarked that the IOC was looking forward to returning to the traditional winter-sports country of Italy ahead of a sustainable Winter Games, thanks to passionate local fans and professional venue operators in the area. “The Olympic Winter Games Milan-Cortina 2026 will feature iconic venues and beautiful settings, combining the attractions of a modern European metropolis with a classic Alpine environment,” he said. Thus far the reactions of winter sports athletes at the news have been positive, with many of them having competed in venues at Cortina in the past.
The 2026 Winter Olympic Games will run from February 6 to 22 of that year, with events held at both Milan and Cortina. As is now traditional, there will be a follow-up Winter Paralympics running the following month, March 6-15.
Images from Olympics.org and KSBW.com