Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala has maintained the city is still a part of the bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, but has renewed his attack on the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) for its decision to change strategy for the project.
Earlier this month, CONI opted to change course with its bid by putting forward a joint proposal from Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin. The CONI National Council unanimously decided to send the “innovative project” to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) after earlier delaying reaching a verdict on which of the three proposals to back.
Under the CONI vision, Alpine skiing and sliding events would be held in Cortina, with Nordic Combined and ski jumping taking place in nearby Val di Fiemme. Snow sports events would also take place in Livigno, Valtellina and Bormio.
Milan would be the destination for sports including curling, ice hockey, short track speed skating and figure skating. Speed skating and ice hockey would also be hosted in Turin, with slalom Alpine skiing in nearby Sestriere.
Milan’s position in the process appeared unclear in the wake of CONI’s decision after Sala (pictured) said Milan would not be part of a formal joint bid, but would instead offer to stage certain events after failing to be chosen as the sole bidder.
IOC rules dictate that there must be a de facto single lead host city, although events can be staged elsewhere and even across international borders. Regarding Milan’s status in the project, Sala told Italian broadcaster Rai3 yesterday (Thursday): “I think it's a botched solution. I asked for a meeting immediately and I was told that we will see each other in September, so let's wait.
“We have not pulled out, but I will not allow Milan’s dignity to be trampled on. Together with the other mayors we will sit down and rebuild.”
Cortina d’Ampezzo hosted the 1956 winter Olympics, while Turin staged the Games in 2006. Milan has never hosted an Olympics, but will stage the IOC Session at which the International Olympic Committee will assign the hosting rights in September 2019.
Sala has maintained that CONI made a last-minute switch after previously backing Milan’s bid. He added: “This is the truth - that CONI and (president Giovanni) Malagò had decided to focus on Milan and the policy then made him change his mind.
“The CONI, with its president Giovanni Malagò, for many months had said, in my presence and that of other people, that in the race to host the winter Olympics of 2026 they would have focused on Milan and Malagò cannot say no. Then 24 hours before the choice he explained to me that it was not possible to go on like this for political reasons.”
Following last month’s announcement by the Austrian Olympic Committee that it was withdrawing the Graz/Schladming bid, CONI is currently facing competition for the 2026 Games from the Canadian Olympic Committee (Calgary), Japanese Olympic Committee (Sapporo), Swedish Olympic Committee (Stockholm) and Turkish Olympic Committee (Erzurum).