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The Tyrolers have their say: yes or no to 2026 Olympic bid on Sunday

Europe, Europa
12.10.2017
By our dpa-correspondent and Europe Online    auf Facebook posten  Auf Twitter posten  
Vienna (dpa) - On Sunday the Austrians will head to the polls in a general election but also at stake is whether the state of Tyrol will proceed with a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

Nearly 537,000 are eligible to vote in the binding referendum to decide whether the country should proceed for a third Games, centred around Innsbruck which hosted the event previously in 1964 and 1976.

The Olympics have changed dramatically in the four decades since winter powerhouse Austria lasted welcomed the world to its mountains and tracks. Hosting is a controversial and expensive business, and even the question - deemed manipulative by Olympic critics - has come under criticism.

"Should the Tyrol region submit a bid to host sustainable, economically and ecologically justifiable Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Innsbruck-Tirol in 2026?" will appear on the ballot paper.

A feasibility study put the cost of the games at 1.175 billion euros (1.4 billion dollars), a sum to be found through the contributions of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), ticket sales and sponsors. Costs are to be kept down by using existing sports facilities and permanent new buildings will not be constructed.

The alpine skiing competitions would take place in St Anton, biathlon in Hochfilzen and Nordic skiing in Seefeld. Skating would take place over the German border in Inzell.

"With Innsbruck-Tirol we can prove that you can organize today‘s modern Games but in a friendly format and without gigantism," Austrian Olympic Committee president Karl Stoss said in summer.

Should a third Games head to Innsbruck, around 2,900 athletes would be expected to attend.

But whether a bid proceeds is doubtful. Tyrol voted against bids in 1993 and 1997 with citizens increasingly sceptical over whether the huge sums spent on hosting can be justified.

The 2018 Games take place in Pyeongchang, South Korea, with 2022 being held in Beijing.

 

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