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Then there were two...

The campaign against the Winter Olympics in Sion was successful. © Olympia2026Nein/facebook

After the rejection by the Swiss city of Sion, there remain just two candidates in the Alps for the 2026 Winter Olympics. But here too the final word has yet to be spoken. (Update: Two days after the publication of our newsletter, the city of Graz/A has also dropped out as a candidate for the 2026 Olympics. The Austrian Olympic Committee withdrew. This leaves only one Olympic candidature from the Alps.)

First Innsbruck in Austria; then Graubünden in Switzerland and Munich in Germany; now the population of the Canton of Wallis has voted against Sion becoming a candidate for the 2026 Winter Olympics. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) regrets the result of the referendum and with it another “no” from a “traditional winter sports area”, as the IOC refers to the Alpine countries. Stefan Grass, head of the “Olympiakritisches Graubünden (Graubünden critical of the Olympics)” committee, closely followed the vote in Wallis and was not surprised by the result: “Many people do not want the burdens that the IOC contract places on the city hosting the Winter Olympics”. The financial argument weighs most heavily, but environmental and transport issues are also raised by this major event, as shown in the CIPRA position paper “Alps without Olympics”.

The Austrian city of Graz, which is still on the list of potential host cities, is also seeing more and more demands for answers to such questions. Tina Wirnsberger, Graz’s councillor for the environment, used the visit of IOC vice-president Juan Antonio Samaranch as an opportunity to ask questions about financing, safety and contracts. “No concrete answers were forthcoming: instead there was plenty of talk about ‘Olympic values’”, as she later posted on Twitter. Meanwhile the Communist Party in Graz, which is also critical of the Olympics, is collecting signatures to force a referendum on the matter. The organisers are currently some 500 signatures short of the 10,000 required. Discussions are also ongoing in Italy, where Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin have all expressed an interest in hosting the games. Here too there are major questions regarding the expected costs, both financial and ecological, which cannot be drowned out even by noisy productions such as the pro-Olympics FlashMob recently organised in Turin.

 

Sources and further information:

www.olympia-nein.ch/go/aktuelles/meldungen/sinon.php (de), www.lematin.ch/suisse/sion-2026-5105/story/14427188 (fr), http://www.cipra.org/en/positions/alps-without-olympics?set_language=en , www.kleinezeitung.at/steiermark/chronik/5450952/IOCVizepraesident-im-Rathaus_Fuer-Winterspiele-braucht-Graz-ein (de), https://twitter.com/tinawirnsberger/status/1009793570184859648 (de), www.kpoe-graz.at/nein-zu-olympia-2026-in-der-schweiz.phtml (de), www.ilfattoquotidiano.it/2018/03/11/olimpiadi-invernali-2026-quattro-motivi-per-cui-sono-contrario-alla-ricandidatura-di-torino/4216316 (it), www.rainews.it/dl/rainews/articoli/Olimpiadi-a-Torino-tensione-in-Giunta-M5S-Sindaco-Appendino-Se-non-passano-si-va-tutti-a-casa-f4bc3d77-771d-4588-a376-71fa6315f9d9.html (it), www.futura.news/2018/06/23/olimpiadi-paralimpiadi-torino-2026-un-flash-mob-olimpico-piazza-castello-dire-si-candidatura-fotogallery (it)

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