Italians will soon be saying benvenuto, world.
A bid centered in Milan, the capital of Italy’s Lombardy region, has been selected to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.
The Italian bid was selected over one based in Stockholm and Åre, Sweden, with the International Olympic Committee voting 47-34 in favor of Milan-Cortina Monday at the 134th IOC Session in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The 2026 Olympic Games are proposed to be held Feb. 6-22, followed by the Paralympic Games March 6-15.
This is the first Olympic Games with two host cities in its name.
Most events are set for Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, a resort town 250 miles to the northeast. Valtellina, which is near the Swiss border 80 miles north of Milan, and Val di Fiemme in the Dolomites will also host events.
Most of the indoor sports — ice hockey, figure skating and short track speedskating — will be held in Milan. Cortina will host women’s alpine skiing as well as biathlon, curling and the sliding events — bobsled, luge and skeleton. Valtellina will host men’s alpine skiing as well as freestyle skiing and snowboarding. Rounding things out, cross-country skiing, Nordic skiing, ski jumping and long track speedskating will be contested in Val di Fiemme.
Italy has hosted the Olympic Games three times, including the Winter Games in 1956 in Cortina d’Ampezzo and 2006 in Torino, in addition to the 1960 Summer Games in Rome. The Paralympic Winter Games, which have shared a host city with the Olympic Winter Games since 1992, will be in Italy for the second time, following the 2006 Games in Torino.
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Following the first Winter Games to take place in China, with the 2022 edition being held in Beijing, the Olympics return to one of the traditional homes for winter sport.
Italy is a regular stop on the world cup circuit for several winter sports, and the 2018 figure skating world championships were held in Milan. Only one new permanent venue will be built for the Games.
Italy won 10 medals, three of them gold, at the 2018 Winter Games in PyeongChang. That ranked 13th for total medals and 12th for gold medals. Italy also won five medals, including two golds, at the 2018 Paralympics.
Three bids reached the final stage of the bidding process, with the IOC naming Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo, Stockholm-Åre and Calgary as candidate cities in October 2018. Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Games, dropped its bid one month later after residents rejected the plan in a vote, leaving just the Swedish and Italian bids for today’s vote.
The Swedish bid similarly planned to host events in four clusters, with most being in the capital and the northern city of Åre, and other events taking place in Falun and outside the country in Sigulda, Latvia. Though Sweden has never hosted the Olympic Winter Games, it had hosted the 1912 Summer Games, the 1956 Olympic equestrian events and the inaugural Paralympic Winter Games in 1976.
Both bids were developed under the guidelines of Olympic Agenda 2020 and The New Norm, which are efforts to reduce the cost and complexity of hosting the Games.
Chrös McDougall has covered the Olympic movement for TeamUSA.org since 2009 on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc. He is based in Minneapolis-St. Paul.