After Paris takes its turn with the Olympic Games in 2024, Europe could be in line to host the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, based on a list of interested cities released Tuesday by the International Olympic Committee.
Seven cities have formally expressed their interest to the IOC, and four of the cities are on the European continent: Graz, Austria; Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan/Torino, Italy; Stockholm, Sweden; and Sion, Switzerland. Now part of a joint bid, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Torino each previously hosted their own Games, in 1956 and 2006, respectively.
Other repeat hosts are also on the list, including Sapporo, Japan (1972) and Calgary, Alberta, Canada (1988).
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Rounding out the list is Erzurum, Turkey, which in recent years has hosted numerous international winter sports like curling and ice hockey.
The Games awarded for 2026 will be the first fully under the Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms, designed to make hosting the event more cost-effective and flexible.
“The IOC has turned the page with regard to Olympic candidatures,” said IOC President Thomas Bach. “Our goal is not just to have a record number of candidates, but ultimately it is to select the best city to stage the best Olympic Winter Games for the best athletes of the world.”
The next step for these cities is continued dialogue with the IOC to put together the most competitive bids possible. Then at the IOC Session in September 2019, the 2026 host city will be selected. The next Winter Games will be in Beijing in February 2022.
Todd Kortemeier is a sportswriter, editor and children’s book author from Minneapolis. He is a contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.