Sion has been nominated as Switzerland’s candidate for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, it was announced today.
The decision will still have to be ratified by the Swiss Parliament of Sport, the supreme body of Swiss Olympic, at an extraordinary meeting scheduled for April 11.
Sion was the only candidate left after the Swiss canton of Graubünden last month voted decisively against bidding in a referendum.
It will be Sion’s fourth bid for the Winter Olympics.
The Swiss Olympic Executive Council took the decision to endorse Sion following two reports produced by its 2026 Taskforce who have been evaluating whether they should bid or not.
An economic impact study claimed that the financial benefit to Switzerland could be worth between $2.1 billion and $2.5 billion.
Additionally, the results of a survey of international Olympic experts have confirmed good chances of a winning Swiss bid if it is strong and innovative, the national governing body claimed.
“The results of the studies are clear: by setting up a new, modern and therefore truly pioneering Olympic project, the Games can have a strong beneficial impact in several important areas for our country,” Jürg Stahl, President of Swiss Olympic, said.
“Swiss Olympic has its role to play in developing this great national project, by organizing a refreshing Games with balanced finances and a sustainable approach.
“This process will provide us with the opportunity to have a real debate on the future of tourism in our country and our relationship with the environment.
“Switzerland is never as strong as when it is a pioneer, and these Games are an opportunity to create a new generation of pioneers, not only for the future of the Games but for the future of our country.”
Switzerland has not hosted the Winter Olympics since St. Moritz, which is part of Graubünden, did so in 1948.
St. Moritz also staged the Winter Olympics in 1928.
Switzerland’s last bid to host the event was for the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Sion was considered the favorite but was beaten 53 votes to 36 by Turin at the 108th International Olympic Committee (IOC) Session in Seoul in 1999.
The vote coincided with the Salt Lake City 2002 bribery scandal, which had been sparked by Swiss IOC member Marc Hodler, who accused the United States city of using bribery to win its bid, where the defeated cities included Sion.
The scandal led to the expulsion of six IOC members.
Sion also bid for the 1976 Winter Olympics, when they were beaten 39-30 by Denver.
The American city later withdrew following a referendum and the Games were instead awarded to Innsbruck in Austria.
Innsbruck are also considering bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics and could be joined by Sapporo and Calgary, who hosted the Games in 1972 and 1988 respectively.
Sweden is also investigating whether to bid or not.
Pyeongchang are hosting the 2018 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games and Beijing will play host in 2022.
A strong bid from Switzerland for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics would be considered the favorite to bring the Games back to Europe for the first time since Sochi 2014.
“Of course, the Olympic Games are one of the best catalysts for sport development in our societies,” Didier Cuche, the 1998 Olympic super-G silver medalist and member of the 2026 Swiss Taskforce, said.
“But the opinion of the Taskforce is unanimous in believing that we have to go beyond that.
“We must create a great project that gives the next generation the opportunity to truly contribute to the development of tomorrow’s Switzerland.
“Through sport, this can be achieved.
“Sion 2026 has the potential to be this great project for Switzerland, set within the strict financial framework that we have developed, and with the conditions that have guided us since the beginning of this process.”
By Duncan Mackay
Republished with permission from insidethegames.biz.