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Innsbruck outlines prudent plan for 2026 Olympics bid

Organisers behind Innsbruck’s proposed bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games have said the Austrian city could host the event on a budget of €1.175bn ($1.32bn) thanks to a plan that would avoid the development of new permanent infrastructure.

A feasibility study released by the Austrian Olympic Committee (OOC) today (Wednesday) detailed the vision behind a Games that would encompass the Tyrol region, as well as potential venues in southern Germany.

The study has been released after the OOC this month revealed the Austrian government’s support for a 2026 Games in Innsbruck and the state of Tyrol. The report outlined the use of venues for biathlon in Hochfilzen, Nordic combined in Seefeld, and speedskating in Inzell, Germany, adding that 77 per cent of venues already exist.

Innsbruck’s concept also excludes the development of a single central Olympic Village, with athletes instead intended to be located close to their respective venues. Austria has staged the winter Games on two occasions, in 1964 and 1976, with Innsbruck playing host on both occasions.

However, the country has since attempted bids on multiple occasions, most recently Salzburg for the 2014 Games, only for them to end in failure. A referendum on the 2026 bid is now due to be held in parallel with the Austrian parliamentary elections on October 15.

Innsbruck’s Mayor Christine Oppitz-Plörer said: “At the Youth Olympic Games 2012, we have shown in Innsbruck that a different trend is taking place – new sustainable large-scale events which have an ecological, economic and socially sustainable effect. In the end, this was also reflected in the financially positive result of these Games.”

OOC president Karl Stoss added: “In the application process for 2026, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will support the candidates much more intensively so the process will be significantly easier and more cost-effective. With Innsbruck/Tyrol, we have a chance to prove that you can organise games in a modern way but still in a friendly format using facilities that have long existed, in places that have a tradition of winter sports. With new transport concepts, with several Olympic villages – without gigantism, without white elephants.”

Earlier this week, a report detailed that Calgary’s staging of the 2026 Games would likely cost C$4.6bn (€3.05bn/$3.42bn) should the Canadian city successfully bid for the event.

In a presentation to Calgary City Council, the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) provided an overview of the potential economic picture should the city land the 2026 Games. CBEC estimates an overall funding requirement of C$2.4bn to supplement the C$2.2bn in revenue from Games operations to account for the full Games cost.

Should the two cities decide to bid, Innsbruck and Calgary could face competition from the likes of Sion, Switzerland; Almaty, Kazakhstan and Sapporo, Japan.