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Winter Olympic bids win government backing in Italy, Latvia

The Italian government has officially signed guarantees in support of the Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo bid to host the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, while Latvia’s Prime Minister has also declared his backing for the country’s role in Stockholm’s effort to land the events.

Confirmation of the Italian government’s backing came as the International Olympic Committee’s Evaluation Commission rounded off its visit on Friday. The guarantee, which is required by the IOC, means the government will commit up to €415m ($466m) to the project – on visa support, guaranteeing human rights, health and safety, and security costs – which will be offset by expected state revenues of €600m.

Italian Sports Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti pre-empted the official confirmation during a press conference in Venice on April 1, before he delivered the official document signed by Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte on Friday.

Conte said: “This commitment to the Games, like that for the ATP (Next Gen) Finals, shows that this government, contrary to what people want to believe, is in favour of big events as long as they are sustainable.

“It has been a long and debated journey, but what matters is the result. Today we have a project fully shared by the government, local authorities and CONI (Italian Olympic Committee). The approach has changed with respect to the past: we do not make unsustainable commitments, nor do we venture into initiatives that do not have a positive impact on the country.”

The announcement bolsters Italy’s claims for the 2026 Games at a time when the Swedish government has yet to back Stockholm’s bid. An IOC deadline for such support is April 12, but Latvia’s Prime Minister, Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš, has now officially pledged his backing for the country’s part in the Stockholm Åre 2026 bid.

Sigulda has been earmarked to host the sliding events should Sweden secure the 2026 Games. In a letter to the Latvian Olympic Committee (LOK), Kariņš said: “It will be a unique opportunity for us to showcase our ability to organise sporting events at the highest level, and to develop the nationally important sports infrastructure. Let us work together to win the honour of hosting the 2026 Olympic Games.”

Commenting on the support, Stockholm Åre 2026 chief executive Richard Brisius said: “We had the choice to build a new centre…for a high cost, or look outside the box to deliver a more sustainable and economically profitable solution.

“Latvia has a fantastic track record when it comes to sports facilities and we are happy to work together to build an innovative solution to deliver the most sustainable Olympic Games in history.”