Innsbruck says hosting 2026 Olympics ‘doable and affordable’


VIENNA (AP) — A feasibility study has suggested Innsbruck could host the 2026 Winter Olympics on a budget of 1.175 billion euros ($1.3 billion), but the Austrian city will need the approval of its residents before deciding on a bid.

“If we stick to the strategy from the feasibility study, it could become doable and affordable games,” Innsbruck Mayor Christine Oppitz-Ploerer said Wednesday during a presentation of the 137-page report detailing financial, infrastructural and economic aspects of a potential candidacy.

The study said different sports could be spread over existing venues in the Tyrol region and in southern Germany, like biathlon in Hochfilzen, Nordic combined in Seefeld, and speedskating in Inzell, Germany. It would prevent Innsbruck from having to build new permanent infrastructure.

Also, the concept refrains from building a central Olympic Village as athletes would be located close to their respective venues.

The dispersion of events is possible under Agenda 2020, the IOC’s reform program that allows more flexibility in hosting the games, including the possibility of using venues in other cities, and even in neighboring countries.

Tyrol governor Guenther Platter said the study provided “a good chance” for Innsbruck to go ahead. Platter added he was planning to start an information campaign ahead of a referendum among the province’s residents, which will be held parallel to the Austrian parliamentary elections on Oct. 15.

In 2013, the last time Austrian citizens were asked about out hosting Olympics, Vienna had to drop plans to bid for the 2028 Summer Games after more than 70 percent of its residents rejected the idea.

Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Games twice, in 1964 and 1976. Since then, Austria had several failed bids, most recently with Salzburg for the 2014 Games.

Other potential bidders for the 2026 Olympics include Almaty, Kazakhstan; Calgary, Canada; Sapporo, Japan; and Sion, Switzerland. With the IOC still to release the bid procedure for 2026, the formal bid process is not expected to start until after the 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with the hosting rights to be awarded in 2019.