IOC exec implies Innsbruck 2026 bid may be favorite

Innsbruck would have “an excellent chance” of hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics if the Austrian city decides to bid for the games, a top IOC official said Friday.

International Olympic Committee executive board member Gian Franco Kasper told AP that Innsbruck would need to join with other cities — probably Salzburg and venues in Italy or Germany — to be able to stage all events.

“They will have to find probably some partners. Nowadays it’s possible with the new Agenda 2020,” Kasper said, referring to the IOC’s reform program that allows more flexibility in hosting the games, including the possibility of using venues in other cities, and even in neighboring countries.

“They can go to northern Italy, to Bolzano for instance, with ice hockey,” Kasper said. “They could go to Munich also with (events on) ice. They could go to Salzburg, which is another possibility. All the outdoor sports can be done in Innsbruck directly. That could be good games.”

Innsbruck has hosted the Winter Games twice, in 1964 and 1976.

The IOC will accept bids for the 2026 Olympics next year, with the host to be chosen in 2019. Japan, Canada, Sweden, Switzerland and Ukraine have also expressed interest in bidding.

“I wouldn’t say it’s Europe’s turn (in 2026),” Kasper said. “We have been in Asia three times with Summer and Winter Games but Sapporo is also candidate for 2026. Sapporo is in Asia of course but has a good chance, too. We will have another four, five candidates, so we’ll see.”

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