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Milan-Cortina’s venue ‘experience’ hailed in 2026 Olympics race

International Olympic Committee (IOC) president Thomas Bach believes the “experienced venue operators” lined up for the Milan-Cortina Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games will ensure a “perfect atmosphere” for athletes at the 2026 edition.

The Italian bid, which highlighted the planned use of existing venues for the Games, overcame rival Stockholm-Åre by 47 votes to 34 at the IOC Session on Monday in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Across the two final bids, more than 80% of the venues were planned to be existing or temporary, up from 60% for the candidate cities for the 2018 and 2022 editions of the Games. The shift reflects the IOC’s attempts to reduce cost burdens on host cities as part of the Olympic Agenda 2020 roadmap.

The relatively frugal venue plan also tallied with a revamped bidding process dubbed the ‘New Norm’ that was introduced by the IOC two years ago following a review by the Olympic Games Delivery Executive Steering Committee.

As part of 118 reforms, the IOC encouraged prospective hosts not to build new venues that could become so-called ‘white elephants’ after the event.

“The passion and knowledge of Italian fans, together with experienced venue operators, will create the perfect atmosphere for the best athletes in the world,” said Bach.

“The new Candidature Process has demonstrated the success of Olympic Agenda 2020. We have lowered the cost and complexity of developing Games projects, which now serve the long-term development goals of the host communities and have sustainability and legacy at their hearts.

“This has led to a significantly reduced organisation budget and the use of 93% existing or temporary competition venues.”

Of the 14 competition venues spread across the four clusters in Milan, Cortina, Valtellina and Val di Fiemme, only one will be a permanent new arena.

The new arena, which will stage ice hockey matches during the games, will be built in the Santa Giulia area of Milan as part of a long-term development of the district. Just one week before the IOC vote, Oak View Group teamed up with Live Nation to secure the rights to build and operate the venue under a deal with property companies Risanamento and Lendlease.

Six of the competition venues will require no significant work ahead of the Games, while three will be temporary arenas. Four of the venues already exist, but will require some redevelopment work.

Only one of the non-competition venues – the Milan Olympic Village – will be a new development, with the Main Media Centre, comprising the International Broadcast Centre and Main Press Centre will be located at the existing Exhibition Centre of Rho-Fiera.

The opening ceremony will take place at the San Siro stadium, with the closing ceremony taking place at the Verona Arena.

It will be third Winter Olympics to have taken place in Italy and the second to feature Cortina d’Ampezzo, the Alpine ski resort that hosted the Games in 1956. Turin staged the Winter Olympics in 2006.

Image: International Olympic Committee