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Switzerland moves forward with 2026 Olympics bid plan

The Swiss Olympic Committee has moved forward with plans to launch a bid for the 2026 winter Olympic Games, with president Jörg Schild stating a strong proposal from a region that also has national support is crucial in the endeavour.

The Committee last month called on cities to express an interest in representing the country in a bid, with cities and regions invited to a meeting held yesterday (Wednesday) in Lausanne. At the meeting it was decided that further workshops will be held in June and October, with a view to reaching a decision on which project to back for a formal bid in September 2017.

A proposed bid by St Moritz and Davos to host the 2022 Games was scrapped in 2013 following a public referendum. Switzerland, despite being the home of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and numerous international federations, has only hosted the Olympics on two occasions, with St Moritz staging the event in 1928 and 1948.

A number of proposals have been put forward for a 2026 Games bid. The concept of ‘Switzerland 2026 – winter Games in Motion’ was outlined by the IG Switzerland group in February, with the idea of utilising seven regions and up to 10 cities. Under the masterplan, either Lucerne, Bern or Zurich would be utilised as a central ‘host city’.

The cantonal government of Graubünden in October voted in favour of the “development of a candidacy” with 90 of the 120 members backing the project. Christian Constantin, owner and president of Swiss Super League football club FC Sion, is also behind a bid for the 2026 Games involving the canton of Valais. Constantin’s proposal envisages an Olympic Games that would spread outside Valais to the likes of Lausanne, Kandersteg and St. Moritz.

The Committee said an additional project from Geneva could also be developed. “The idea is to discuss with candidates to find out why and how they want to organise the Olympic Games," Schild told the Committee’s official website. "We have so far never done that. We believe that the exchange of ideas is a good thing. In addition, among the competitors a healthy rivalry is created."

Applications are expected to be submitted to the Committee by mid-December ahead of potential referendums in the first half of 2017. “There are always politicians who are interested in Olympic Games but the last word has to be with the people,” Schild said.

With a final decision expected by September 2017, Schild added: “It may also be that we do not submit a candidacy. For example, when a project is created which means we cannot prevail against international competition. We want a project that brings together an entire region and the whole of Switzerland can get behind. Otherwise we have no chance. Among other things, this will be discussed with candidates in the workshops.”

The International Olympic Committee will select the winning city in 2019. PyeongChang and Beijing will host the next two editions of the Games, in 2018 and 2022.