The cities of Calgary and Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Cortina D’Ampezzo and Milan officially became candidates for the 2026 Winter Olympics on Tuesday after the International Olympic Committee ratified their bids. The IOC Executive Board last week recommended the three as candidates for the Olympics in eight years time, dropping Turkey’s Erzurum. The three bids are the last of seven initial candidates, with Swiss city Sion, Japan’s Sapporo and Graz in Austria pulling out in recent months, scared off by the cost and size as well as local opposition to the event.
The coming months will be crucial for the remaining bids, with Calgary having set a non-binding plebiscite on the Games for Nov. 13. Several Olympic bids have been defeated in referendums in recent years, including in Germany and Switzerland, home of the IOC.
“(Calgary) is working hard, communicating in their community and we are keeping away from that discussion (plebiscite),” said Juan Antonio Samaranch, who heads the IOC’s evaluation of the bids. “We continue to try to be as supportive as we can for that important milestone. But it is for the citizens of Calgary to make that decision.”
Italy twice launched bids with Rome for the 2020 and the 2024 Summer Games before pulling out midway through the process and the 2026 bid does not yet enjoy full government backing. It also initially included Torino, which pulled out over project differences. Stockholm can expect local opposition, as was the case when they briefly bid for the 2022 Olympics before pulling out following public pressure.
The Swedish bid has also yet to get full backing from the country’s main political parties. The IOC will elect the winning bid in June 2019 at its session in Lausanne.
Refugee team to take part at Tokyo 2020 Olympic, says IOC
Refugees will take part in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics after the International Olympic Committee (IOC) on Tuesday said it would form a refugee team for the second consecutive Summer Games. IOC President Thomas Bach asked members of the Olympic body at its session in Buenos Aires to support the creation of a refugee team, along the lines of the one that competed at the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games. The members responded with applause.
“So you have created the refugee Olympic team, Tokyo 2020,” Bach said. The German said the IOC had already identified a pool of more than 50 refugee athletes and it was necessary to keep the world aware of the plight of the tens of millions of refugees around the world.
“There is one unfortunate reason for the creation of this team,” Bach told a news conference. “This is the fact that the reasons we created the first ever team still persist. We have altogether 68.5 million refugees in this world.” “Through sport we want to make a contribution to keep the world aware of this problem and this challenge and that it does not disappear from the conscience of the world, and send another signal of hope to these refugees.”
There were no details yet on the final size or makeup of the team but Bach said the pool of potential athletes for the team could grow more. “Last time (for Rio) we were under very high time pressure. Now we have two years. We have already taken precaution… and we have a pool of athletes in place. Already now we’re supporting 51 or 52 refugee athletes who we have identified,” Bach said.
“This pool can still grow in the run-up to Tokyo 2020. It is too early to say how many will finally make it.” The IOC unveiled its first team of refugees in an effort to raise awareness of the issue and it was one of the feel-good stories of the Rio Olympics. The 10-member team from Syria, Congo, Ethiopia and South Sudan hogged the spotlight after marching as the penultimate team before host nation Brazil in the Opening Ceremony at the Olympic stadium.
The athletes took part in athletics, swimming and judo. The IOC has continued supporting these athletes, some of whom attended the IOC session in the Argentine capital. The IOC had said last year it was considering forming such a team again for the Tokyo Games and has continued to support the athletes who took part in Rio.
“I am delighted that this tradition is to continue in Tokyo,” said United Nations High Commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi in a statement. “Giving these exceptional young people the opportunity to compete at the very highest levels is admirable.”
IOC has asked Senegal to help in Diack investigation
The International Olympic Committee has asked Senegal to support a French investigation into the son of the former head of the international athletics federation (IAAF) who is suspected of corruption, IOC President Thomas Bach said on Tuesday. France’s financial prosecutor has said that Senegalese Papa Massata Diack, the son of former long-time IAAF President Lamine Diack, had been at the heart of a corruption scheme in international sports, an accusation he has denied.
The prosecutor said there were indications that payments were made in return for the votes of IAAF and IOC members over the designation of host cities for the Olympics and other major sporting events. “We have been in contact with (IAAF President) Seb Coe on this,” Bach told reporters.
“We have asked Senegal already a long time ago to assist in the inquiry and we have had assurances months ago that if the French authorities want to hear Papa Massata Diack then they can come to Senegal and there he will be at the disposal of the French authorities.”
The President of Senegal, Macky Sall, was at the IOC Session in Argentina this week as the capital, Dakar, was named as the 2022 Youth Olympics hosts. Lamine Diack was president of the IAAF from 1999-2015. He was the first African head of athletics’ governing body and an influential member of the IOC. His son was a former marketing consultant to the IAAF.
Brazilian investigators have said politicians and the head of the national Olympic committee arranged a $2 million bribe for Lamine Diack’s vote and for him to convince other IOC members from Africa to bring the 2016 Games to Rio de Janeiro. The elder Diack is being detained in France as investigations continue.
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