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The next unused bobsleigh run

Feb 19, 2024 / Michael Gams, CIPRA International
The controversial Olympic bobsleigh run in Cortina is being built after all. Despite organisational concerns, Italy’s Infrastructure Minister, Matteo Salvini, has pushed construction through.
Image caption:
Closed in 2011: the 2006 Turin Olympic bobsleigh run serves as a cautionary tale. © Francesco Pastorelli

In the bid dossier for the 2026 Winter Games, the Italian organising team had indicated that a bobsleigh track already existed: it later became known that the old facility in Cortina was to be demolished and rebuilt. The estimated costs rose to over 120 million euros. Citizens’ initiatives and environmental organisations protested and expressed their concerns, with the dilapidated bobsleigh track in Turin 2006 serving as a cautionary negative example. It was closed in 2011 owing to its underutilisation and excessive running costs. Even the International Olympic Committee (IOC) argued in favour of using one of the facilities in a neighbouring country for reasons of sustainability. No construction company wanted to take on the risky building contract, partly because the lead time was too short. In late autumn 2023, Italy’s government consequently decided against building a new bobsleigh track in Cortina. This would have meant that bobsleigh and skeleton competitions would for the first time have taken place outside of the host country. However, the Italian infrastructure minister performed another U-turn at the last minute. “He wants to have the bobsleigh track built at any cost, at the expense of taxpayers and nature – in the knowledge that there is a risk that it will not be completed on time and will later remain unused owing to underutilisation and high operating costs”, says Francesco Pastorelli, Managing Director of CIPRA Italy.

CIPRA had already expressed its concerns to the IOC at the beginning of 2022 and subsequently in 2023. The IOC also adopted this position at the end of January 2024 in a written response to an open letter from CIPRA, describing the construction of a new competition venue as “not essential for the organisation of bobsleigh, luge and skeleton competitions at the Olympic Winter Games in Milano-Cortina”.


Sources and further information: (it), (de), (de)