Sion and Lillehammer make 2026 Olympic bid progress

Swiss bid gets financial boost as Norwegian former host plans candidacy.

Sion and Lillehammer make 2026 Olympic bid progress

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The Swiss city of Sion’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has had a funding package approved, as Norwegian media reports link 1994 host Lillehammer to a campaign for either the 2026 or 2030 Winter Olympic Games.

Officials in Sion’s home canton of Valais voted to support the city’s Olympic bid by 101 to 22, with five abstentions, rubber-stamping a decision to provide credit of CHF100 million (US$106.4 million). CHF60 million (US$63 million) of this will go towards the development of permanent infrastructure in the city, with the remainder used to address security costs.

Councillor Frédéric Favre said that the canton would co-sign the host city contract with the City of Sion, if the agreement was acceptable. The Tribune de Genève newspaper reports that Favre said: “We are not in the folly of grandeur, we respect the taxpayer. The people can trust us.”

The first stage of the candidacy process for the 2026 Games begins on 10th June, when Valais will vote on the proposal. If locals vote in favour of the bid, the National Council and the Council of States will be asked to approve or reject the project.

If both committees accept the bid, Sion will become an official candidate for the 2026 Games. The news comes after InfrontRingier, the Infront agency’s joint venture with Swiss media company Ringier, was appointed last month as the exclusive marketing partner for Sion’s bid.

The Swiss government gave its backing in October to Sion’s campaign for the Games, stating it would provide up to CHF995 million (US$1.04 billion) to support the project.

A proposed bid from the Swiss cities of St Mortiz and Davos to stage the 2022 Winter Olympic Games was rejected by a local referendum.

Sion was last a Winter Olympic candidate in 2006, when it lost out to the nearby city of Turin, Italy. St Moritz was the last Swiss city to host the Winter Games, in 1948.

Meanwhile, the Norwegian village of Lillehammer, which hosted the 1994 Winter Olympic Games, plans to bid for either the 2026 or 2030 Games, according to Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang.

Lillehammer, which also hosted the 2016 Youth Winter Olympic Games, published a feasibility report about a potential Winter Olympic bid last year.

The IOC said last month that four cities have entered the initial dialogue phase for potential 2026 Olympic bids, including 1988 host Calgary in Canada, the Swedish capital of Stockholm, Sion, and the Japanese city of Sapporo.

Bids to host the 2026 Games must enter the dialogue phase by March 2018, and a final vote by International Olympic Committee (IOC) members will be held in 2019.

In February the 2002 host, Salt Lake City in Utah, became the first US city to confirm its intention to bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, with Denver, Colorado and Reno, Nevada also contemplating bids for 2026.

Oslo withdrew its bid for the 2022 Olympics in 2014, after the Norwegian government voted not to financially back it.

No Norwegian bid has been a finalist for an Olympic host city vote since Lillehammer last hosted.