Stockholm continues 2026 Winter Games bidding plans
The Swedish Olympic Committee initially wanted to host the 2022 winter Games, but the city said no. Now, the tune has changed. A majority in the municipality of Stockholm wants to proceed with a bid to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026.
With the cities of Falun and Åre as partners, Stockholm is ready to keep working on a bid for the hosting of the Winter Games 2026 following the release of a report commissioned by Stockholm Municipality investigating a possible Swedish winter Olympics, it was announced on Friday.
The report presupposes that the majority of sports will take pace in Stockholm, while ski jump and Nordic combination will be placed in Falun and most of the alpine sports in the city of Åre. This will secure a better use of existing facilities in comparison with Stockholm’s 2022 plans, which proposed more construction in the Stockholm metropolitan area.
“This report shows that Stockholm, in cooperation with the other municipalities, has a good opportunity to create visionary Games with focus on uniting world class sports and spectator events with a clear focus on sustainability,” says Stockholm’s Social Democratic mayor, Karin Wanngård.
The Moderate Party, the center-right opposition party in the city council, are also positive towards a potential Olympic bid.
“It is good for Stockholm as an event and sports city, but it is very important that the estimates are realistic and that investments will not happen at the expense of other projects,” says Anna König Jerlmyr to local news media Stockholmdirekt.
Disagreements over Olympic plans
Meanwhile, other parties in the city council are more critical. Some have been against a bid from the beginning; others demand that the Games must not be paid for by taxpayers. Others stress the importance that Falun and Åre will be included because they already have some of the very costly infrastructure needed. This includes a ski jumping facility, which according to the report will cost SEK 800 million to build in the Stockholm area.
Among the public, there are also different opinions. In a poll made in relation to the report, half of the respondents are positive towards an Olympics in Stockholm, while the other half is opposed. Those in favour say that the Games will market Stockholm well and be a positive experience for the citizens, while fear for traffic chaos and the large costs connected to the event are reasons for the negative perceptions.
Economy in focus
Public protest and an often well-founded fear for spiraling costs have been important reasons for a number of European cities to withdraw from bidding for Olympic events in recent years. A University of Oxford report from 2016, concludes that all Olympic Games from 1960-2014 have seen overrun budgets and that nearly half of these Games have seen budget overruns by more than 100%.
According to the Stockholm report, a winter Olympics in Stockholm will cost USD 1.5 billion. In comparison, the Vancouver 2010 Games cost USD 2.5 billion and the Sochi 2014 Games USD 21.8 billion.
The expenses for hosting the Stockholm Games will match the expected income of USD 1.5 billion precisely, says the report. The largest source of revenue will be the IOC contribution of USD 880 million – a contribution that has been raised by around USD 225 million in comparison to Vancouver 2010.
The economic consequences are addressed by representatives of Swedish sport and president of the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK), Hans Vestberg, says to Swedish Television that it should be possible for Stockholm to host one of the least expensive Games ever. He also says that the report is only a first step towards a bid and a possible hosting and that the next step for the SOK, in cooperation with the involved municipalities in and around Stockholm, is to develop a financially sustainable and internationally competitive concept.
The Swedish Sports Confederation, Riksidrottsförbundet, is also positive towards a bid, but its president, Björn Eriksson, says that the hosting should not affect the general state support for sport or planned sport for all projects in the municipalities in question.
The Swedish sports minister, Gabriel Wikström, has stated that the government is positive towards hosting the winter Games in Stockholm but that they need more facts and better foundation in terms of economy before the necessary governmental guaranties for the financing can be approved.
The report will now be submitted for hearing before the Stockholm City Council decides whether to go forward with the bid or not. Then, in the fall of 2017, the Swedish government will come to their decision on the potential bid.
The final decision on where the 25th Olympic winter Games will take place is made at the 132nd IOC session in 2019. If Stockholm is elected as host in 2026, the Swedish capital will only be the second city after Beijing to have hosted both the Olympic summer and winter Games.