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  • Milan-Cortina 2026: Transportation 'Surprise' for Athletes


    (ATR) Lengthy travel times between city and mountain venue clusters in the Milan-Cortina 2026 bid could pose significant challenges, according to the IOC.
    Traveling Italy's mountain roads during the IOC inspection visit in early April (ATR)

    Travel time – combining rail and road travel – between Milan and the Cortina mountain cluster is estimated at five hours, 30 minutes. Milan to Val di Fiemme could take 3 hours, 30 minutes, while Milan to Bormio and Livigno is anticipated at 2 hours, 30 minutes and 3 hours, 30 minutes respectively.

    The Milan-Cortina 2026 transport plan relies on existing transport infrastructure and public transport systems, with few upgrades necessary. For athletes, long travel times will not be a concern as the venue masterplan projects less than 20 minutes of travel between each of the six Olympic Villages and nearby competition venues in normal traffic conditions.

    One significant challenge raised in the report are the lengthy travel times between the various mountain Olympic Villages and San Siro Stadium in Milan, where the opening ceremony will be held. Times range from between two-and-a-half and five-and-a-half hours. Roughly, only about 25 percent of all athletes will be competing and residing in Milan.

    A Milan-Cortina 2026 spokesperson addressed the issue to Around the Rings.

    “For the opening ceremony there will be a surprise for the athletes that we can’t reveal before,” he said. “The transport system was scaled to move all spectators to and from the venues in a maximum of two hours.”

    A twisting alpine road above Cortina (ATR)
    The mountain venues in Cortina, Bormio and Val di Fiemme all have hosted world-class skiing events for decades with significant experience managing transportation services.

    However, as outlined in the IOC Evaluation Commission report released on May 24 following inspection visits to all of the Italian bid’s venues and those of its opponent Stockholm-Are, ample time and cautious planning will be required for Games-related travel.

    The report states: “Transport in the three mountain clusters poses a significant challenge, due to high venue capacities, the small size of the mountain villages, narrow roads, and limited public transport capacities.

    “Robust traffic planning and management measures will be required to facilitate Games travel and operations.”

    Lombardy region minister of sport Antonio Rossi advises: “There are some plans to improve the highway from Milano to Bormio.

    “Switzerland will open the Forcola Pass in 2026, so we have another road to reach Milano because from the Forcola Pass you arrive in Tirano.

    “The region of Lombardy has already planned work, irrespective of the Games, to adjust the roads in different parts and turns to make them easier for buses,” Rossi said.

    As a result of the distances between venue clusters, roundtrip travel will be difficult and stakeholders are advised to stay overnight as opposed to returning to the original point of departure.

    The IOC report addresses similar travel time concerns and challenges as related to the four venue clusters in Italy’s rival Stockholm-Are bid.

    Should Italy be awarded the Games, Milan-Cortina 2026 is expected to establish an Olympic Transport Steering Group to coordinate planning and delivery.

    Other positive aspects in the 144-page IOC report include conclusions that gateway airports in Milan and Venice are sufficient to handle visitor demand and Milan benefits from an advanced public transport system including metro, suburban rail, tram and bus networks that will aid flow during the Games.

    Written by Brian Pinelli

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