Winter Olympics sliding events to be held outside Italy after 2026 track snub

Winter Olympics sliding events to be held outside Italy after 2026 track snub

The sliding events at the Milano-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics will be held at a venue outside Italy after the government decided not to pay for a new one, Games organising chief, Giovanni Malagò, said on Monday.

Malagò told an International Olympic Committee (IOC) meeting that the government had decided not to invest in a venue for the Games, leaving organisers no option but to look for one abroad. The sliding centre hosts the bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions during the Games and Italy’s plan to reconstruct a sliding centre where an old, defunct venue existed had hit obstacles from the start of preparations.

“The ability to attract some construction companies carrying out the complex project that is the sliding centre has not produced many results,” Malagò said of a tender launched this year. “The [Italian] government inform us it would consider the best and most sustainable option. To not go ahead with a sliding centre and move the sliding competition to an already existing and working venue. As a result Milano-Cortina has to identify another venue outside Italy.”

Kristan Bromley of Great Britain in action in the skeleton event in the Turin Winter Olympics of 2006. Photograph: Peter Kneffel/EPA

Sliding centres near Italy include venues in Switzerland, Austria as well as Germany and France. “We are evaluating all possibilities because it’s not just about moving competition, it’s much more than that,” said Games CEO, Andrea Varnier. “It’s the Olympic Games, so there’s a lot of implications. It’s quite a broad discussion. It’s not just renting a sliding centre and go and take the competition. So that’s why we’ll take a little time and talk with all the available centres.”

Moving an Olympic sports competition to another country is extremely rare, with Stockholm hosting the equestrian competitions of the 1956 Games in Melbourne due to quarantine restrictions in Australia. Hong Kong, which returned to China in 1997 but still has its own separate National Olympic Committee, hosted the equestrian events of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

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“We are already working to explore all possible solutions,” Malagò said. “We will analyse alternatives together with the IOC and the international federations before submitting the choice to our board for final approval. A decision like this will impact the operation and has a consequence on the budget of the organising committee,” Malagò added, without providing details of the impact the move may have.

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The IOC has in recent years relaxed hosting rules with cities that do not possess specific venues, encouraging the use of existing ones – even in other countries – to reduce costs and simplify operations.