Voters in Swiss region reject bid for 2026 Winter Games
SION, Switzerland (AP) — Another Olympic hosting bid in Switzerland was sunk Sunday by a public vote against expected high costs.
A total of 53.98 percent of voters in the Swiss region of Valais refused to pledge financial support for a 2026 Winter Games hosting bid centered on the town of Sion.
“There is no plan B,” Sion Mayor Philippe Varone said Sunday, declaring the bid campaign over.
It is the third time in five years that a bid campaign supported by the Swiss national Olympic body was rejected by the people.
In 2013, voters in the upscale ski resorts of St. Moritz and Davos, plus their home canton (state), rejected a bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics. Last year, the same Graubuenden region rejected a renewed campaign for 2026.
Sunday’s vote is another rejection by European voters for the International Olympic Committee, and one that hit closer to home.
Sion called for medal events to be scattered across Switzerland, including in the IOC’s home city of Lausanne in the neighboring canton of Vaud.
The IOC on Sunday blamed misinformation for the latest loss.
“From the polls, we understand that outdated information on the cost of the Games was the main concern for those voting against the funding,” the Olympic body said.
Sion offered what the bidders termed a sustainable Olympics relying on already existing ice venues and ski courses. Voters rejected assurances from the IOC and bid supporters that expensive new construction would not be needed.
The IOC has created a more flexible bidding process for the 2026 Olympics, and still has six possible bids in contention: Turin and Milan in Italy; Graz in Austria; Stockholm; Turkey’s Erzurum; Calgary, Canada; and Sapporo, Japan.
IOC members will make their decision in September 2019.