Olympic Winter Games 2026: The award is absurd even for IOC ratios
In Lausanne, the day of the decision began unusually. For the morning of Monday at 8 clock, ten hours before the announcement of the host of the Olympic Winter Games in 2026, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) had shortly called for a "significant announcement". Some believed that there would be a double award again due to a lack of applicants: as in 2017, when Paris's 2024 Olympic City and Los Angeles received the 2028 Summer Games at the same time.
And this time? A winter double 2026/2030 with Milan and Stockholm?
It did not get that wild. It was all about the money.
IOC President Thomas Bach signed the first joint sponsorship agreement in the history of the Olympic marketing a few minutes before the start of the session. For the first IOC sponsor ever, Coca-Cola, and the scandal-ridden Chinese dairy giant Mengniu, the rules were changed so that both companies can now operate in the Olympic business.
So far, Coca-Cola has had a monopoly in the category of soft drinks, which has been expanded with dairy products - now the Americans share the Olympic market with the Chinese. The contract runs until 2032 and is expected to have a volume of well over a billion dollars.
So the message of the day, just before the 134th General Assembly of the IOC, was a day after the inauguration of the new headquarters on Lac Léman: we are financially excellent, even if the engine stutters again and again. Because the difficulties to find Olympic host, continue.
Neither budgets nor political support secured
It was never more absurd than this competition for the 2026 Winter Games. After referendums Graubünden, Innsbruck, Sion and Calgary had quit their offers, other interested parties such as Graz and Sapporo also frittered out. Only from the adventurous plans in Erzurum (Turkey) the IOC said goodbye of its own free will. Thus, Milan and Stockholm were named candidates in the fall of 2018, although neither all budgets nor political support were secured. Lucky for the IOC, that there were no referenda in Sweden and Italy.
The IOC made many concessions, went through a lot in times of need, and sold many absurdities as innovations. Although Stockholm's newly elected city council rejected the application, the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) simply continued, supported by the IOC. This was largely due to SOK Secretary General Gunilla Lindberg, a professional and multi-functional: Lindberg is an IOC member and also belongs to its Executive Committee, she is Secretary General of the World Association of all National Olympic Committees and has as IOC coordinator the difficult Olympic project Pyeongchang Mastered in 2018.
Where Stockholm is written, Stockholm is not really there: an organizing contract would be signed by representatives of the municipality of Åre, 500 kilometers away, where the Olympic ski competitions are to take place.
A survival fight for the Winter Games
Lindberg made it so that the application was not set. And also in Italy, a member of the Olympics Group provided: The head of application and NOK President Giovanni Malagò had been appointed as member of the IOC on 1 January 2019 with a special historic rule. An important indication of how much Bach's leadership built on him. Malagò has actually succeeded in completing the application against major political obstacles.
It was a struggle for survival, and for the IOC it was about being able to present candidates at all and to be able to host these Winter Games. President Bach shuffled from one buzzword to the next, talking about the "evolution of the revolution" and praising the "New Standard" for Olympic bidding, which was passed in early 2018.
For example, it allowed the Swedes to take the toboggan run in Sigulda (Latvia). Not everything has to be built anymore, neighboring countries may be involved in Olympic projects - that is actually new. For both projects, Milan and Stockholm, the distances between the sports facilities are therefore enormous, but the overall costs are likely to decrease. However, the calculations of the Italians are still rudimentary and fraught with great risks.
The IOC continues to spread the argument that Olympic Games are essentially without additional burdens on the taxpayers of the host countries, because the royalties of the IOC, television revenues and sponsorship agreements such as Coca-Cola and Mengniu, as well as national marketing revenues and ticket sales are the costs be covered in the organizational budget. IOC Vice President Juan Antonio Samaranch even coined the word "No Cost Olympics". In doing so, one traditionally concentrates on the organizational budget and neglects the infrastructure budget and the enormous security costs. In essence, this Olympic arithmetic has not changed, despite some real savings.
Milan is probably ahead of the pack
Recently, the evidence of a victory in Milan condensed. Advisers from the Swedes spread this spin: just a few weeks ago, the IOC had swept Stockholm's candidates to safety because of the lack of state guarantees. The "New Standard" is so flexible, it even allows that. But in mid-June a letter arrived from Lausanne, in which binding state statements were solicited. It's about tax, such as security, it's also about deficiency guarantees, if companies do not keep their promises.
Requesting these guarantees so late is a plot against the Swedish application and proving that the IOC administration is planning with the Italians to spread advisors from Stockholm. On Monday afternoon, application manager Richard Brisius, in the presence of Prime Minister Stefan Löfven, suddenly stated that the government had given the IOC "all the guarantees required". Of course, the security costs are also paid.
Such sport policy feints are likely to remain hidden from many IOC members. Because traditionally not all are interested in the winter games. Some members, such as Pakistani Syed Shahid Ali, traveled to the Olympic capital to vote on a billion-dollar project without doing their homework. Syed Shahid Ali is an IOC member of the second generation and second generation, virtually taking over his father's membership. "Italy is there, I know that," said Ali at the weekend in Lausanne: "But who is the second candidate again?"