International Ski Federation (FIS) president Gian Franco Kasper has welcomed news of Innsbruck’s proposed bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, stating the Austrian city would have “an excellent chance” of securing the event.
The Austrian Olympic Committee (AOC) last week said it will conduct a feasibility study into a bid to return the winter Games to Innsbruck for a third time in 2026. The study will cost €350,000 ($385,000) and will be jointly financed by the AOC, the City of Innsbruck and the Austrian government.
Austria has staged the winter Games on two occasions, in 1964 and 1976, with Innsbruck playing host on both occasions. The country has since had several failed bids, most recently in the shape of Salzburg for the 2014 Games.
Speaking to the Associated Press news agency, Kasper (pictured), who is also an International Olympic Committee executive board member, said Innsbruck would need to team up with other cities to be able to stage all events – a plan that is a possibility under the IOC’s Agenda 2020 reform initiative.
Kasper said: “They will have to find probably some partners. Nowadays it's possible with the new Agenda 2020. They can go to northern Italy, to Bolzano for instance, with ice hockey. They could go to Munich also with (events on) ice. They could go to Salzburg, which is another possibility. All the outdoor sports can be done in Innsbruck directly. That could be good Games.”
Interest in bidding for the 2026 Games has already been expressed by Stockholm, Sweden and four regions in Switzerland – as well as Calgary, Canada; 2022 bid runner-up Almaty, Kazakhstan and Sapporo, Japan. Hosting rights are set to be awarded in 2019.
Kasper added: “I wouldn't say it's Europe's turn (in 2026). We have been in Asia three times with summer and winter Games (2018, 2020 and 2022) but Sapporo is also a candidate for 2026. Sapporo is in Asia of course but has a good chance, too. We will have another four, five candidates, so we'll see.”