MILAN (AP) — An Italian construction company has made an 81.6 million euro ($89 million) offer to rebuild a historic bobsled track in Cortina d’Ampezzo for the 2026 Winter Olympics amid a standoff between local organizers and the IOC, which wants an existing venue in Austria or Switzerland to be used.
The offer from Parma-based Impresa Pizzarotti & C. — which does not include taxes — was the only one submitted at the closure of the tender process late Thursday.
If approved, construction would start with less than two years to go before the Milan-Cortina Games — and less than a year before International Olympic Committee-mandated test events. No sliding track has been built recently in such a short timeframe and test events have taken on even greater importance following the death of Georgian luger Nodar Kumaritashvili in a training crash hours before the start of the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
The IOC has repeatedly insisted that an existing ice sliding venue outside Italy must be picked to avoid extra spending on construction. Options include nearby tracks at St. Moritz, Switzerland and Igls, Austria.
“Our position is unequivocal,” the IOC’s director of Olympic Games Christophe Dubi said Thursday at a briefing in South Korea, setting a Jan. 31 target for a decision.
“We from the very beginning felt that this venue was extremely complex in terms of cost, in terms of legacy, in terms of timing,” Dubi said of the options in Italy. “We have promoted the use of an existing track.”
The Italian government, however, does not want to pay for events to be held abroad.
A final decision could be made at the local organizing committee’s next board meeting on Jan. 30.
The IOC is sensitive about spiraling costs and potential white elephant projects, so encourages local organizers to use venues in other countries.
But organizers for this year’s Summer Games in Paris defied the IOC by picking Tahiti to host surfing events. That project has run into environmental concerns over constructing a new tower for judges and TV cameras in a lagoon amid pristine waters and reefs.
The next Winter Games are being held across northern Italy from Feb. 6-22, 2026.
AP Olympics: https://apnews.com/hub/2024-paris-olympic-games