Italy to invest €1bn to enhance Winter Olympics venue access

The Italian government has unveiled an investment package of €1bn (£904.1m/$1.19bn) for infrastructure development designed to improve access to venues for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The funding will be used for road and railway projects in the Lombardy and Veneto regions that will host the Games, along with the autonomous provinces of Bolzano and Trento. Under the decree, Lombardy will receive €473m, while €325m will go to Veneto, €120m for Trento and €82m for Bolzano. All projects must be finished before the Games commence in February 2026.

Infrastructure and Transport Minister Paola De Micheli said: “The works that are being financed serve to improve access and connections for (the Olympics) but are conceived to maintain their usefulness over time, even after 2026, and will be realised according to environmental sustainability standards.”

Vincenzo Novari, CEO of Milano Cortina 2026 Foundation, organising committee of the Games, added that the decree demonstrates that the events are “already an effective lever of economic development, capable of realising works that citizens have long been waiting for”. 

Milan-Cortina’s Games venues will be privately financed according to agreements reached with the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The reported budget for the Games budget, excluding infrastructure spending, is currently €1.5bn.

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 held in June 2019. 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.

The 2026 Games 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.