Morariu: It's for members to decide if central government guarantees are still crucial
By Callum Murray
The International Olympic Committee’s evaluation commission for the 2026 winter Olympic Games today declined to confirm that central government financial guarantees remain a crucial requirement for successful Olympic bids, saying that it would be for the IOC membership, and not itself, to make that judgement when members vote to choose the host city on 24 June.
Octavian Morariu, chair of the evaluation commission, and Christophe Dubi, the IOC’s Olympic Games executive director, were fielding questions during a media teleconference this afternoon, after the commission issued a report this morning on the two bids for the games, Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy and Stockholm-Åre in Sweden.
The report said that Milan-Cortina, but not Stockholm-Åre, meets all of the criteria for a successful games, with the commission's concerns over Stockholm-Åre apparently revolving around the bid’s financial support and commitment.
Stockholm 2026 has pledged not to use taxpayer money to stage the Olympics, planning instead to use corporate guarantees, insurance and a contingency reserve, but the report warned that “the names of the institutions or companies, as well as their level of financial contribution, remain to be determined…”
Asked whether the report’s concerns suggest that it is still difficult for a city to mount a convincing Olympic bid without central government guarantees, despite the IOC’s much-trumpeted new flexibility over financing the games, Morariu said: “It’s really important who signs the contract, but also maybe more important are the guarantees that are behind the agreements. If we go back to PyeongChang [last year’s winter Olympic Games], they were signed by the region.
“The door is open for any developments. The [IOC] session established that it is about opportunities, challenges and the flexibility to leave bid cities to come up with new models.
“We [the commission] present the reality as it is today… We cannot judge by ourselves. Our mission is to highlight the opportunities and challenges, and I think this is what we did. The report is open to analyse. Members will obviously ask questions - some might be exactly yours - then the decision will be taken.”
The report said that key elements for any successful games include, “a clear vision aligned with existing long-term development goals, a solid venue masterplan, firm support from all sectors of society and the best possible athlete experience.”
Of Milan-Cortina, it said that the bid “meets all these criteria.”
However, it observed of Stockholm-Åre:“While the concept is solid, some operational aspects need further details... At the time of writing, a number of areas, including the governance model and financial support and commitment, remain to be clarified.”
Last month, the Milan-Cortina bid received a major boost when Giuseppe Conte, the Italian prime minister, signed a letter guaranteeing the government’s full support for the bid.
The letter promised that the government would provide security for the games, handle anti-doping expenditures and co-ordinate visas for visiting athletes, officials and fans.