Stockholm 2026 seeks talks as Olympic bid faces political opposition

The bid committee for Stockholm’s effort to land the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has said it will stage immediate talks with the Swedish city’s government after a new coalition appeared to refuse to grant its support to the bid.

On Friday, a new coalition was formed comprising of a centre-right alliance and environmentalists, with officials stating they required no taxpayer funding for a winter Games in Stockholm. At a press conference to announce the coalition deal, Karin Ernlund of the Centre Party said Stockholm would not host the Olympics, saying the city “is facing other large challenges that we have to work with”.

She added: “The starting point for all our parties has been to ensure that a winter Olympics should not be on the taxpayers to pay for it.”

Anna König Jerlmyr of the Conservatives said there was no political majority for a bid and that there was “a lack of basic data” behind the proposal. Jerlmyr instead suggested that the 2030 Olympics be targeted. She added: “It is missing a clear basis for a winter Olympics right now, but everyone wants to have it in the future so the question is when.”

Despite being a winter sports powerhouse, Sweden has never hosted the winter Olympics. The country launched six consecutive failed bids for the Games between 1984 and 2002 and Stockholm 2026 has outlined a bid plan that also includes Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard in Åre; ski jumping and Nordic combined in Falun; and bobsled, skeleton and luge in Latvia.

In response to Friday’s news, Stockholm 2026 issued a statement pointing to the strengths of its bid and the prudent nature of the proposal. The statement read: “Our plan is both financially prudent and socially responsible for all stakeholders – starting with our city and nation and including the Olympic Movement. Our bid is strong, our budget is strong, and it is 100-per-cent privately financed – no taxpayer funds. We believe this approach is tailor-made for the IOC’s new reality going forward. Stockholm 2026 will set new standards in every aspect of sustainability, not only for our Games, but for winter Games thereafter.

“The bid leadership just returned from the IOC Session in Buenos Aries, and the collective feedback about our bid and plan was extremely positive because it clearly represents a new way forward: no waste, no surprises and no unneeded infrastructure development. The Games themselves are self-funded through IOC contributions and marketing revenues, and we will only build two new venues, the speed skating track and the Nordic ski venue. Both of these venues have lasting, sustainable legacies here in our winter sports nation. They are not investments only for the 2026 Games, they are investments in our youth for generations to come.

“Our plan represents something new for Sweden and the IOC. It is a direct investment in Swedish youth through sport. Sweden is one of the most accomplished winter sports nations in Olympic history, yet we’ve never hosted a winter Games. Our plan is also a fiscally conservative one, which can serve as a new model going forward. And Stockholm 2026 represents a return of the winter Games to an enchanting Scandinavian winter wonderland.

“We look forward to sharing our plans with the new coalition. The dialogue will begin immediately, starting with a meeting and update for the Mayor-elect on all relevant information. Therefore, the campaign continues as before. But with an even greater focus on clarifying to the new coalition what Agenda 2020 really means.”

Concern over the status of Stockholm 2026 would present a fresh challenge to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which last week confirmed the Swedish city, along with Calgary (Canada) and Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo (Italy) as the three candidate cities for the 2026 Games. The status of the other two bids is also uncertain with Calgary’s facing a public referendum on November 13 and government support yet to be established in Italy.