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  • Fast Start for 2026 Olympic Bids


    (ATR) What used to be called a marathon is now something more akin to an 800m race.

    A Nov. 13 plebiscite will determine if Calgary stays in 2026 race (Getty Images)
    The three cities selected by the IOC for the final stage of the race for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games spent the first official morning of their candidacy meeting with IOC staff. With just over eight months to go until the IOC votes next June in Lausanne, there is no time to waste.

    Calgary, Milan and Stockholm were each represented by the top of their teams for the briefing on what comes next in this newly truncated bidding phase. Under the rubric of Olympic Agenda 2020 -- as well as the philosophy of the New Norm -- the shorter, the better for the public stage of the process.

    The 2026 Olympic bids are the first to fully implement this new way of doing things. For the past year, potential cities have been in touch with the IOC for informal discussions of how an Olympics could fit. The result of all these consultations is the three-city lineup. Erzurum in Turkey was dropped from the field this week because it lacked some of the technical and infrastructure requirements other bids offered.

    Italian National Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malago is leading the campaign. Staff from CONI as well as the regional governments of Lombardy and Veneto and the municipal government including Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala also are helping.

    Giovanni Malago (ATR)
    Malago tells Around the Rings that a meeting is set for next week in Rome at CONI headquarters with Sala and other government leaders. It will be the first strategy session for the major stakeholders since the IOC decision.

    All of the bid teams are now grappling with the immediate task of preparing their first international presentation at the end of November. The presentation in Tokyo to the General Assembly of the Association of National Olympic Committees is one of only two international pitches the three cities are allowed to make.

    The other is another difficult itinerary for all three bids. That will come in April during the SportAccord convention in Gold Coast, Australia. While it is a fantastic destination, the bid cities will only be permitted to present to the meeting of the Association of Summer Olympic International Federations.

    For the bid cities, a day or more of travel will likely be needed. Business class travel for those fortunate enough to book can be expensive to that part of the world. All that for 30 minutes with leaders of the international federations on the summer program.

    The other calendar issue to be settled is the date of the IOC session. Undoubtedly the dates will range from June 24 to June 29. A major factor in the scheduling is the inauguration of the new headquarters of the IOC. Sunday, June 23 is Olympic Day and the date set aside for the opening ceremony. With IOC staff consumed with preparing the opening of the headquarters, handling the IOC session would presumably follow in the days afterwards.

    In early January the bid cities will file their first documents outlining their plans for the games. The IOC Evaluation Commission, yet to be named, will visit during the March to April time frame, the bid cities were told at the Wednesday briefing from the IOC.

    Malago says Milan is happy to forgo hosting the 2019 IOC Session in September as first planned more than a year ago. That was before Milan decided to enter the race for 2026. Selecting Milan as a candidate city has forced the IOC to abandon the northern Italian city in favor of neutral ground in Lausanne.

    “We wanted to avoid any comments, any political or polemics regarding the timing of the Session. No problem at all,” he says.

    Malago is one of the nine members of the IOC class of 2018 elected this week at the Session in Buenos Aires. He will take the seat currently held by Mario Pescante, effective January 1, the day after Pescante retires from the IOC.

    Reported by Ed Hula in Buenos Aires.

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