11/15 06:11 CST Government offers to help Milan-Cortina bid for 2026 Games
Government offers to help Milan-Cortina bid for 2026 Games
By ANDREW DAMPF
AP Sports Writer
ROME (AP) --- Enjoying its status as the leading contender to host the 2026
Winter Olympics, the Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo bid has received another boost
with a funding promise from the Italian government.
Interior Minister Matteo Salvini said if "private funding isn't enough, we'll
make the final push" to cover the remaining costs.
Salvini's announcement signals a shift after Deputy Premier Luigi Di Maio said
last month the government would send a letter of support for the bid to the
International Olympic Committee "but as government we won't provide 1 euro ---
neither for direct nor indirect costs."
So far, the candidacy is being financed exclusively by the regional governments
of Lombardy and Veneto --- two of Italy's most affluent regions.
Meanwhile, the other two candidates on the IOC's shortlist for 2026 are facing
Calgary's bid was rebuffed on Tuesday when local voters said "no" in a
nonbinding referendum, while a newly formed government in Stockholm has
announced it would not provide funding to host the games.
"We've done well to move forward," Italian Olympic Committee president Giovanni
Malago said. "Otherwise we would have lost a chance that seems more unique than
Added Veneto president Luca Zaia: "It would be a mistake to lower our guard now
that there is possibly one less opponent, because we won't win it until the day
it's assigned by the IOC."
The host will be selected by the IOC in a vote on June 24 in Lausanne,
The Milan-Cortina candidacy is operating on a budget of between 2 and 3 million
euros ($2.3 and $3.4 million) but could scale back if Stockholm were also to
"If we end up alone I won't cry," Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala said, adding that
his city is ready for the games after hosting the Expo 2015 World Fair. "Big
events are a great opportunity. You need to handle them well and we've already
shown here that we know how to do that."
There are no plans for a referendum involving the Milan-Cortina bid, which
takes advantage of IOC reforms by proposing to host the games over a wide swath
of northern Italy.
The candidacy would entail holding skating sports and hockey in Milan and
Alpine skiing and sliding events in 1956 host Cortina, which is already
preparing to hold the 2021 skiing world championships.
Other snow sports like snowboarding and freestyle skiing could be contested in
Bormio and Livigno north of Milan.
Several events would also be slated for existing venues in Trentino-Aldige,
which would mean involving a third region.
Biathlon could be held at Anterselva near Cortina, Nordic sports in Val di
Fiemme and long-track speedskating in Baselga di Pine.
The opening ceremony would be at the 80,000-seat San Siro in Milan, ensuring
one of the biggest crowds in history for a Winter Games kickoff.
And in a nod to Italy's large trove of cultural and historic sites, the closing
ceremony could be at Verona Arena, a large Roman amphitheater that has hosted
the Opera on Ice.
"I've seen the plan and it's one that will have some of the least economic
impact in history because it utilizes a lot of existing (venues)," Salvini said
in an interview with Leggo.it on Wednesday.
One potential hurdle for the Italian bid rose recently when the ruling
coalition led by the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement and right-wing League
party suggested it is considering taking over the distribution of financial
funding for sports from the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI).
Under current conditions, CONI decides how to divide the more than 400 million
euros ($450 million) in annual funding from the government between the various
national sports federations. If the function is removed, it would greatly
reduce CONI's power.
However, Italy is anxious to bring a bid through the entire process after two
Rome candidacies for the Summer Games were withdrawn in recent years because of
"If we look at how some Olympic cities have ended up there's not much to be
happy about," Salvini said. "But I prefer to look at the positive side."
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