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  • Sion Voters Reject 2026 Olympics-Updated


    (ATR) Switzerland -- home to the IOC -- rejects a new effort to bid for the Winter Olympiics.

    Despite a campaign to build support, the Swiss bid effort fell short. (Oui Sion)
    Voters in the Valais Canton have overwhelmingly said no to a bid for the 2026 Games.

    The final result of the the June 10 referendum showed 54 percent of the voters opposed the Olympic bid.

    It's the fourth time in 10 years for a Swiss winter bid to fail with a plebiscite.

    Sion 2026 chair and the president of Swiss Olympic, Jürg Stahl expressed his disappointment with the vote.

    “We respect the choice of the people of the Canton of Valais,even though this refusal is painful for all those who worked tirelessly to develop an Olympic Games’ project focused on sustainable development, with a strong social and ethical commitment, fully in line with the IOC’s Agenda 2020," the NOC president said in a statement.

    bid for the 2006 Games, losing out to Turin, in part due to fallout of the IOC vote-buying scandal in 1999.

    "From the polls, we understand that outdated information on the cost of the Games was the main concern for those voting against the funding," says a staement from IOC headquarters, an hour west of Sion.

    "The recent fundamental reforms undertaken by the IOC have unfortunately not been taken into consideration. The impact of these reforms is clearly illustrated by the case of the last edition of the Olympic Winter Games, PyeongChang 2018, for which this week a multi-million dollar surplus was announced. According to the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee, this was only possible thanks to the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020 and close cooperation with the IOC," says the statement from Lausanne.

    The defeat is the third time in recent years that voters in Switzerland have rejected plans to bid for the Winter Olympics. And in 2002, voters in Bern turned down bidding for 2010 after the IOC had included the Swiss capital in the short list with Pyeongchang, Salzburg and Vancouver.

    The 2026 bid for Sion came with pledges of government support, $1 billion from the federal level, $100 million from the canton. Other cantons where events were to be held indicated that those governments supported the bid.

    More to come in this developing story from Around the Rings.