Release: Stockholm Are 2026
“Åre 2019 is an important opportunity to show what Sweden can do” – Mats Årjes
The eyes of the winter sports world have been on Åre and the Alpine World Championships over the past week – and Swedish Olympic Committee President, Mats Årjes, believes that the competition is an ‘important opportunity’ to show that Sweden can deliver the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
Last month, Åre was included in the official Stockholm Åre 2026 candidature file submitted by the Swedish Olympic Committee to the International Olympic Committee as the country bids to host its first ever Winter Games in 2026.
And Årjes, who has been present in Åre at the competition over the past days, believes that the city’s addition to the candidature file is a ‘natural step’.
“Åre has been a key part of all of Sweden’s candidatures for the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games,” explains Årjes. “It’s the only place in the country where you can host all of the alpine competitions that make up the Winter Games.”
“There are arena sports that can be held in other big cities and certain disciplines that can be held outdoors too, but when it comes to the facilities and conditions required for the alpine competitions, Åre stands out as an obvious venue.”
Indeed, Åre is a proven world-class winter sports venue, having hosted over 100 competitions over the years – and Årjes believes that the experience of delivering elite sporting competition on a global scale stands the Swedish Winter Games bid in good stead.
“I hope and believe that sustainability, which is clearly an important part of any future Olympic Games, is given the place it deserves,” he adds.
“The World Cup in Åre is a great example of that, because we’ve basically used 100% of what was used in 2007 for the World Cup – and that’s exactly how it should be in the Olympics, too.”
Åre joins Stockholm, Falun and Sigulda, Latvia as proposed venues for the bid, which would see Sweden host Olympic competition for the first time since 1914.
Årjes has been present in Åre for the first half of the Alpine World Championship, which sees the best talent in alpine sports compete against each other and ends next weekend. He sees the competition as a fantastic showcase for Sweden’s ability to deliver the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026.
“This is an extremely important opportunity to show the traditions we have in Sweden of organising competitions in all of the disciplines covered by the Winter Games. We have the World Figure Skating Championship (to be hosted in Stockholm in 2021), we’re arranging the Ice Hockey World Championship, and so on – there are very few winter sports in which we haven’t arranged a world championship.”
Last week marked an important date – seven years until the proposed opening of the Stockholm Åre 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games – and Årjes is keen to see Sweden show what it can do on the world’s biggest stage.
“I really believe that this would be a great opportunity for our country to show how good we are – both in hosting big events, and also how we think about sustainability issues,” he said.
“The proposal to the IOC (International Olympic Committee) is a really fascinating study as we have many existing facilities that can be used – and that’s what the Olympics is about, and what the IOC wants to communicate.”
Should Sweden win the vote to host the Games on June 24, 2019 at the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne, the proposed Games schedule would be 6 – 22 February 2026 for the Winter Olympics and 6 – 15 March 2026 for the Winter Paralympics.
With the IOC’s decision to be made in the summer, Årjes admits that the 2026 dream is ‘extremely exciting’.
“I think about the prospect of this a lot, and it will be extremely exciting to see what happens between now and June,” continues Årjes. “We will continue to work hard on this until then.”
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