Switzerland reveal vision to become first "host country" of Winter Olympics

Switzerland reveal vision to become first "host country" of Winter Olympics
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Swiss Olympic has unveiled its vision to become the first host country of the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, insisting "gigantism is out of the question".

The National Olympic Committee (NOC) has revealed that it is examining the possibility of staging the Games in either 2030, 2034 or 2038 after entering talks with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

A feasibility study was launched in April by Swiss Olympic and the country’s winter sport national governing bodies over the prospect of a future bid. Swiss Olympic claimed it had become clear this month that it could host a "sustainable, cost-efficient" Winter Olympics and Paralympics but stressed that it must take a national approach to make that possible after ruling that "no host city or region alone can be considered".

"Instead, Switzerland, as the host country, would give its name to the 203x Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, and the competition venues would be spread across the country," a statement from the Swiss Olympic read.

"This would make Switzerland the first 'host country' in Olympic history.

"A vision for Swiss athletes and all sports fans, a unique experience: a cross-societal celebration that sets impulses throughout the country and makes Switzerland shine."

This year's International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championships is set to be held in Switzerland, which Swiss Olympic claims boosts its status as a
This year's International Bobsleigh and Skeleton Federation World Championships is set to be held in Switzerland, which Swiss Olympic claims boosts its status as a "world winter sports hub" ©Getty Images

Swiss Olympic believes that the country can lay claim to be a "world winter sports hub" due to its "modern sports infrastructure" and "organisational know-how".

It pointed out that Switzerland is poised to stage a series of major winter sport events over the next four years. Among those include the World Championships in bobsleigh and skeleton in 2023, biathlon in 2025, freestyle ski, snowboard and freeski in 2025, men's ice hockey in 2026 and Alpine skiing in 2027.

Swiss Olympic promised that Switzerland will have "contemporary, modern infrastructure" for 13 out of 14 Winter Olympic sports by the end of the decade.

Speed skating is an issue for Switzerland, with the NOC admitting that there is "no possible competition venue" but revealed that it would be willing to hold talks with other nations over staging the sport outside of the country.

Swiss Olympic also proposed using existing facilities to accommodate athletes and officials in what it described as "Olympic hubs" instead of constructing a "large" Olympic Village.

"Under these conditions, gigantism is out of the question," said Swiss Olympic vice-president Ruth Wipfli Steinegger.

Wipfli Steinegger leads the Swiss Olympic Steering Committee also includes Executive Board member Sergei Aschwanden, Swiss-Ski President Urs Lehmann, Swiss Ice Hockey Federation leader Michael Rindlisbacher and Swiss Sliding President Daniel Mägerle.

Swiss Olympic admits that it has
Swiss Olympic admits that it has "no possible competition venue" for speed skating ©Getty Images

Swiss Olympic said that it decided to look at the possibility of bidding for the Winter Olympics and Paralympics due to a "changed starting position" by the IOC.

The IOC Future Host Commission has been tasked with investigating a number of options, including permanent rotating hosts and a joint award of the 2030 and 2034 Winter Games.

Swiss Olympic said cost-cutting measures would contribute to the “most ecologically, economically and socially sustainable” Games.

"Under these new conditions, we are examining whether we in Switzerland can make a concrete contribution to the unifying power of the Olympic Movement, instead of limiting ourselves to criticism of the host countries," said Wipfli Steinegger.

Swiss Olympic is set to continue holding talks with the Federal Office of Sport and cantonal and municipal authorities to gauge support for its vision for the Games.

It is expected to decide on its next steps in October following the completion of its feasibility study and corresponding report.

Should a bid receive the backing of the country’s Parliament, Swiss Olympic hopes to enter the "targeted dialogue" stage of the bidding process with the IOC.

Swiss Sports Minister Viola Amherd has spoken in favour of a bid for the Winter Olympics provided it
Swiss Sports Minister Viola Amherd has spoken in favour of a bid for the Winter Olympics provided it "sustainable, tailor-made for Switzerland and widely supported" ©Getty Images

Swiss Sports Minister Viola Amherd has already expressed her support, claiming that the event could "trigger lasting changes in society and the economy".

Saint Moritz hosted the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948 but Switzerland has not staged the event since following a series of failed attempts.

The last of those came when the Swiss town Sion bid for the 2026 edition only for a Canton-wide referendum to vote against its candidature in 2018 because of fears over the costs. While Switzerland is taking a national approach, the French National Olympic and Sports Committee is backing a joint bid by the French Alpine regions of Auvergne Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur.

Sweden has also entered the frame after former favourite Japan and Canada all but dropped out of the bidding race, while the United States expressed its preferred choice to host 2034.

The Swedish Olympic Committee has advanced to "ongoing dialogue" with the IOC and has already gained initial public support with a survey finding that seven out of 10 Swedes felt that the country should apply provided it is done in a sustainable, democratic and cost-effective manner.


Photo: Getty Images
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