IOC shuts down Italy's late plan to revive a home bobsled track for 2026 Winter Olympics

FILE - A view of the bobsled track in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. A big-ticket project for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics has been dropped because the Italian government no longer wants to help fund it, organizing committee officials said Monday, Oct. 16, 2023. (AP Photo/Gabriele Facciotti, File)

LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) — The International Olympic Committee on Friday moved to shut down suggestions that Italy could still manage to stage ice sliding events at its home 2026 Winter Games.

Organizers of the Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo Olympics acknowledged last month that bobsled, luge and skeleton events are set to be raced in neighboring Austria or Switzerland after scrapping a delayed and increasingly costly plan to revive the storied and scenic Cortina sliding track.

But Italian national and regional government officials have recently suggested that organizers could renovate another mothballed track in Cesana, which was used for the 2006 Turin Winter Games. That would still cost tens of millions of euros (dollars) but less than the Cortina plan.

But that's a no-go, the IOC said Friday in a statement emailed to The Associated Press.

The Olympic body cited the lack of a viable future for the Cesana track which already led it “to be abandoned only six years” after the 2006 games.

“The IOC has been very clear over the last years that no permanent venue should be built if there is not a clear and viable legacy plan,” it said, reiterating that at such a late stage “only existing and already operating tracks must be considered.”

That likely means Swiss resort St. Moritz or Igls in Austria which are, respectively, about 200 and 100 miles (320 and 160 kilometers) from Cortina.

“The IOC has also already clarified that it believes that the current number of sliding centers is sufficient for the current number of athletes and competitions,” the Olympic body said.

The 2026 Winter Games already are one of the most scattered Olympics with road and train journeys of between four and six hours between Milan and Cortina.

Using a bobsled venue in a different country is not a new concept. The Italian bid won its Olympic hosting vote in 2019 over a Swedish bid centered on Stockholm that planned to use a sliding track in Latvia.


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