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Winter Games on a slippery slope

Jan 31, 2022 / Michael Gams, CIPRA International
History repeats itself: after the fiasco surrounding the construction ruins in Turin in 2006, the plans for Italy's supposedly “green” Winter Games in Milan and Cortina in 2026 are now too coming under criticism.
Image caption:
The bobsleigh track in Cortina/I: it is to be rebuilt for the 2026 Olympics at a cost of at least 60 million euros. (c) gizmin0

Gigantism, environmental damage, incalculable costs and the dictates of the all-powerful IOC: in an open letter and a statement, CIPRA has now called on the IOC and the Italian Olympic Committee to rethink the plans for the 2026 Winter Games. With its “Agenda 2020”, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) wished to strive for more transparency and sustainability, with the promise that there should be no more building ruins or public debt. The actual plans for the 2026 Winter Games paint a different picture: the most prominent example at present is the planned construction of a new bobsleigh track in Cortina at a cost of at least 60 million euros, although there exist cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives – for example, holding individual competitions on the Innsbruck-Igls/A ice canal.

Criticism of plans for Milan-Cortina 2026

Italian environmental associations have criticised the plans for sports facilities and other construction projects in connection with the 2026 Winter Olympics. Almost 40 local and environmental groups took to the streets in Cortina and the Puster Valley in autumn 2021, criticising the planned construction of too many buildings and infrastructures that would only be used for a short time – in the middle of the Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage region. Vanda Bonardo, President of CIPRA Italy, says: “If the way the Winter Olympics are held is not drastically reconsidered – starting with the infrastructure directly or indirectly related to the Games – the Alpine region should never again be considered as a venue for such events”. Meanwhile, two other Alpine Olympic bids are already on the cards: the French region of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes wants to apply to host the 2030 Winter Games, while the region of Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur is aiming for the Games in 2034 or 2038.

CIPRA is calling for no more Winter Olympics to be planned or held in the Alps under current conditions. A dossier and a position paper show why the Winter Games no longer have a place in the Alps.


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