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Italy to host 2026 Winter Olympics

Milan – Cortina d ’ Ampezzo was named as hosts of the 2026 Winter Olympics on Monday, beating off a bid from Stockholm -Are in Sweden , giving Italy the showpiece event for the third time .

The 2026 Olympics will run from February 6 – 22 , said the International Olympic Committee.
“ It is Italy who has won , ” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte .

Italy has twice previously hosted the Winter Games — in 1956 in Cortina d ’ Ampezzo and 2006 in Turin . Sweden has only hosted the Summer Olympics, in 1912 in Stockholm .
IOC members gave the Italian bid the nod by 47 votes to 34 .

“ We are proud of this superb result . Italy has won , all the country will work together with the ambition to succeed and give everyone a memorable sporting event , ” Conte wrote on Twitter having left Lausanne before the result of the vote was announced.
Italy ’ s controversial Interior Minister Matteo Salvini predicted an economic windfall for the region .

“ It ’ s a historic day and a victory of all Italians , ” he said .
“ Thank you to those who believed in it from the beginning , especially in the municipalities and regions , and tough luck for those who gave up and who did not believe. ”
Salvini estimated that the Games will generate five billion euros ( $ 5 . 69 billion ) and create 20 , 000 jobs .

“ Congratulations to Milan – Cortina d ’ Ampezzo . We can expect a great and memorable Winter Games in a country with a tradition of winter sports , ” said IOC president Thomas Bach as members of the Italian delegation chanted : “ Italia , Italia ” .
“ The passion and knowledge of the Italian fans , combined with the experience of organising events , will create a perfect atmosphere for the best athletes in the world . ”
On the road to the 2026 decision , bids from Calgary , Graz in Austria , Japan ’ s Sapporo and Sion in Switzerland fell by the wayside , mainly because of concerns over the cost or a lack of popular support .

A bid by the Turkish ski resort of Erzurum was ruled out by the IOC in October 2018 .
The bid by Stockholm and the Are ski area — which hosted the World Ski Championships in February — had appeared to be running out of steam a few months ago due to a lack of funding commitments before the government swung behind it .
Prime Minister Stefan Lofven had met with Bach on Sunday to give assurances over the guarantees of “ full support ” from the government .

They were questions which were expected to weigh heavily on the vote.
By contrast , after Rome ’ s failed attempt to capture the 2024 Summer Olympics, Giovanni Malago , head of the Italian Olympic Committee ( CONI ) managed to unite political and economic support .
The Italian bid combined the two richest regions of Italy — Lombardy ( Milan ) and Veneto ( Cortina ) .

It also highlighted traditional winter sports sites such as Cortina , which hosted the 1956 Olympics, Bormio and Anterselva.
On Monday, Conte made his final pitch for Italy before the vote.
– ‘ Start work straight away’ –
“ Our bid is worthy of the highest consideration , ” Conte told delegates .
“ If Italy is chosen , then work will start from this evening so that our Games leave a mark on history .
“ This is the dream of an entire country, and not only the government but also the regions . ”
Italian Olympic 500m short track speed skating champion Arianna Fontana highlighted the climate advantages of the bid.

“ Milan – Cortina will be the sunny part of the Winter Olympics, with an average 10 hours of sunlight every day , ” she said .
Michela Moioli , Olympic snowboard champion in 2018 , added : “ The whole country believes in us ; it ’ s your turn to believe in us . ”
On Sunday, Swedish high jumper Stefan Holm , the 2004 Olympic champion in Athens and now a member of the IOC , had said winter sports powerhouse Sweden had a strong claim to host the Winter Games for the first time .

“ Sweden deserves the Games — Norway has had them twice, so it would be fair for Sweden to have them , ” he said , adding , in a veiled jibe at Italy ’ s economic slowdown , that his country was “ economically and politically stable ” .

The 2022 Winter Olympics will be staged in Beijing .
( AFP )

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