Swiss Olympic, the City of Sion and the Canton of Valais have reached an agreement in principle with the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that will allow them to spread the financial obligations of bidding for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.
With a host city contract typically only signed by the mayor of the city in question, this move will help alleviate any concern over the burden this would place on Sion as the centrepiece of the Swiss bid. The Sion 2026 vision would see the Games spread around Valais and the neighbouring cantons of Berne, Fribourg and Vaud.
In a statement issued by the Canton of Valais, it is stated that the agreement with the IOC means that should a bid prove successful neither Swiss Olympic, the City of Sion or Valais intend to assume the organisation, financial management and the operational part of the Games.
The public authorities will guarantee the aspects that fall within their remit, such as public security and the sustainable infrastructures located on their territory. However, the organisation of the Olympic Games will be delegated to an association or a public limited company.
The statement added: “Regarding the legal form of the future Organising Committee (OCOG)… a legal structure such as the association or public limited company has already been successfully used in the past.
“For the IOC, the host city contract provides for a joint commitment by all parties involved, but the financial guarantees to cover the risk of possible budget deficit of the organising committee may take different forms. They may even be limited to a specific amount, provided that they fulfil their function in a credible way to ensure that the organisers can meet their financial commitments.”
The announcement comes ahead of a critical referendum in Valais on June 10, which is likely to determine whether the bid proceeds.
Switzerland has staged the winter Olympics twice before, with St. Moritz hosting in 1928 and 1948. Switzerland considered bidding for the 2022 Olympics, but a proposed bid from St Moritz/Davos was rejected by a local referendum.