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BidWeek: No Winter Games In Sweden. Ever?

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BidWeek, Reporting From Lausanne, Switzerland – A final press release sits in the front of the official Stockholm Åre 2026 Olympic bid website. “No Winter Games in Sweden,” it announces, in bold. Sweden’s Olympic and Paralympic Games bid was defeated by Italy’s Milan-Cortina Monday, outvoted decisively 47-34. But there’s more to the tone of the title.  […]

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That Stockholm press release is a damning slap down of the much vaunted Agenda 2020.  The IOC's flexibility is still hugely limited and thus has taken Sweden completely out of play.

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The glaring irony here, is how the IOC gave Norway a tongue-lashing themselves when Oslo finally dropped out of the 2022 race, leaving them without the only bid that they really wanted then.

Now Sweden pretty much does the same thing to the IOC. Doesn’t sound like Norway nor Sweden now will want to play the IOC’s tawdry bid “Games” for quite some time, until perhaps the IOC really does change. Which from the looks of it, ain’t gonna be anytime soon.

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Yep. Unless there's a full open door for the Nordic countries, they won't be there for the IOC for some years. 

But checking more of this, in full honesty, it seems the Nordic countries are actually rejecting hosting big events. For the Euro happened similar story. They went almost as "whatever" during the qualification for the 2020 Euro to get the Pan European stadiums. They didn't ever showed enthusiasm for the Friends Arena. Then all the Nordic bid withdrawn for 2024. In 2016 Denmark pushed the idea again for 2028, but since then, full silence. 

And that's not counting other events which Sweden and Denmark had rejected including the European Handball Championship.

It seems the Nordic countries seem to get over for the idea to get events there (Unless if it's Eurovision Song). 

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It's quite simple - if the event is going to divert significant financial resources from more pressing public needs then it won't get spent and alternate forms of funding has to be found.  This is the right policy for Scandinavia right now.  Sweden does not have the budget to spend on big events like Japan, USA, China etc.  They saw what Agenda 2020 was allowing and put together a solid plan that would spread the effort across the country and internationally. 

The IOC had an alternative that while not ideal was at least in the same country and had Governmental support.  Sadly the IOC is not as brave as their exhaustive press releases indicate.

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16 minutes ago, thatsnotmypuppy said:

The IOC had an alternative that while not ideal was at least in the same country and had Governmental support.  Sadly the IOC is not as brave as their exhaustive press releases indicate.

I’ve been too pissed off to comment till now, but, yes, quite right Puppy.

Gunilla Lindberg was right on the money with her comment:  “Is the IOC ready for the New Norm or is it just talk?”

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At the end of the day, Sweden's bid lacked support.  Italy's bid, while not all that desirable, did have support.  We can - and probably should - blame the IOC for creating an environment that bidding for an Olympics is seen more as a liability rather than an opportunity.  Maybe it is on them to have made this more enticing for Sweden so that they weren't waiting until late in the game to get more serious about it.  It's easy to look at Sweden's bid and think about what it could have meant for the Olympic movement.  But did the Swedes really want this?  Would they have gotten behind the way a host nation should?  So I understand the IOC's trepidation.  I would have loved to see them take that leap of faith and hand the reigns over to Sweden and see what they could do with it rather than returning to a country they recently visited.  The majority of the IOC thought otherwise and it's their asses on the line to live with that decision.  

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The only way I can see full support from Sweden is with a Sweden - Christian Democrats Coalition government let's hope they make a come back in 2034 once the dust is down come back with the 2022 compact Bid plan, I really think the Italy 2026 regionalism will be a one off event with a compact Salt Lake City 2030 plan and Sapporo Japan and Almaty Kazakhstan will have a compact bid. With the direction of Sweden I think it will be possible with the Sweden - Christian Democrats coalition government supporting the bid for 2034 without having the Sliding events in Latvia. 

2033-2034 would also be the Diamond Jubilee year for the Swedish King would be a great year like London 2012 with the Diamond Jubilee for Queen Elizabeth 2 and the Olympic Games. 

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Oh wow! I think the sky is gonna start falling! A post from Quaker that I can ‘mostly’ agree with! :lol:

But like I also mentioned yesterday, the Executive Board *approved* both Milan & Stockholm to the final ballot. Even the 2026 Final Evaluation Report gave a lot of praise to Milan’s plan. So each city deserved to be voted upon accordingly. They got rid of the fodder early on known as Erzurum. So that was it.

As with every other bid race, there’s always going to be supporters of the losing city who are going to be sadly disappointed & call the IOC out (although they do deserve it sometimes). It’s a given. It would’ve been very nice to see a new nation host the Winter Games, but it didn’t pan out that way this time. Just like it didn’t pan out that way for South Africa or Istanbul, either. It’s just the nature of the game.

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2 hours ago, thatsnotmypuppy said:

It's quite simple - if the event is going to divert significant financial resources from more pressing public needs then it won't get spent and alternate forms of funding has to be found.  This is the right policy for Scandinavia right now.  Sweden does not have the budget to spend on big events like Japan, USA, China etc.  They saw what Agenda 2020 was allowing and put together a solid plan that would spread the effort across the country and internationally. 

The IOC had an alternative that while not ideal was at least in the same country and had Governmental support.  Sadly the IOC is not as brave as their exhaustive press releases indicate.

Sweden is running a large budget surplus, and has been for years. Its state could easily afford the Games--certainly much more than the Italian one; Swedish voters did not want to pay for this and it would rather that their government be debt-free (given the rate at which they are paying debt down is a real possibility soon). Not saying Sweden has no problems, but a lack of money isn't one of them. 

Sweden appears to lack the elite culture that makes getting the Olympics a high political priority. The Games are something local and national elites do to make a statement--to show the world that they can organise and stage the world's most logistically challenging event and marshal support for this. Swedes, arguably, don't feel the need to make a statement, unlike (say) the Milanese, who want to step out of Rome's shadow. (Anyone remember Expo 2015?). This felt more like "why not?" than "why so?" London's 2012 bid had lower public support than Paris, which they countered through having a better narrative and superior elite-IOC engagement; Stockholm just said they never hosted and that their bid ticked the Agenda 2020/New Norm boxes. That's...clearly not enough.

After the 2022 failure I'm mostly surprised that the SOK didn't learn any lessons. They did not get a real sports politician to front the bid; hire the right consultants early; create a narrative of "why?"; do public engagement; or, when Stockholm City Council became difficult, throw the city under the bus and build a case around Gothenburg (or another city). CONI's dumping of Torino should have been a sign of ruthlessness and a willingness to do what it takes to win. Maybe that is the real story here--that they don't want it badly enough.

The journalists who went on the evaluation visit said that the bid would have been workable, just that the Swedish public had little idea it was going on and was largely indifferent. Sweden hosts lots of world championships without it being big that big a deal, and this was treated no differently. That the Olympics are different is what Swedes need to admit to themselves.

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7 hours ago, Roger87 said:

Yep. Unless there's a full open door for the Nordic countries, they won't be there for the IOC for some years. 

But checking more of this, in full honesty, it seems the Nordic countries are actually rejecting hosting big events. For the Euro happened similar story. They went almost as "whatever" during the qualification for the 2020 Euro to get the Pan European stadiums. They didn't ever showed enthusiasm for the Friends Arena. Then all the Nordic bid withdrawn for 2024. In 2016 Denmark pushed the idea again for 2028, but since then, full silence. 

And that's not counting other events which Sweden and Denmark had rejected including the European Handball Championship.

It seems the Nordic countries seem to get over for the idea to get events there (Unless if it's Eurovision Song). 

When has Denmark rejected European Handball championschip? 

In Handball Denmark has had a lot of international championschip over the years

Men European Championship 2014
Women European Championship 2010 and 2020 (both times co-host with Norway)
Men world championship 2019 (cohost with Germany)
Women world championship 2015 and 2023, in 2023 cohost with Sweden and Norway

So we have had international championships in handball since 2010 in 2010, 2014, 2015, 2019, 2020, 2023. 

Of other big events since 2010 can I mention the following

2010: World Championship, track cycling
2011: World championship, curling women
2011: UEFA U-21 European championship
2011: World championship, cycling road and BMX
2012: Giro d´Italia start 3 stages. (cycling) 
2012: European Championship, table tennis
2013: European championship, volleyball
2013: European championship, swimming (25 m pool)
2015: World championship, Archery
2017: European Championship, badminton
2017: European championship, swmming (25 m pool)
2018: World championship, ice hockey (perhaps our biggest event until now), and big succes!
2018: World championship, sailing, all Olympic classes
2019: World championschip, curling women

And much much more smaller sports world and European championschip… 

And in the future we have world championschip in badminton, part of icehockey allready again, part of UEFA 2020, gymnastic world championship 2021, Canoe and Cayak sprint, and grand depart in le Tour de France in 2021. And works for other big events. 

On an international list of biggest nation to host big sports events we are number 12! https://www.sportcal.com/GSI/GSINationsIndex I think that is very very good when we are not even 6 million people in the whole country. And every event I can recall has had a lot of compliments and praises for good organisation and welldone events. And also a lot with good economy (cant remember all of course, but know that several events has come out with a plus)

For me i hope and dreaming of a joined Olympic bid Copenhagen/Malmø. Perhaps with Gothenburg also, "Øresund" region. "The small and cosy games in the Nordic" 

Yes football championship we dropped out of. And i think that was good. We don´t need many 40.000 footbal stadiums at all. There has been talking about women championship in stead, and that is clearly more interesting. 
 

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Great analysis, Smitty!  Almost seems like you have an inside track.  To me, the Swedish bid, with the disarray of their various political factions as a foreboding background, just didn't exude the "we want it now" mantra that the raucous northern Italians did.  And Saab could easily have donated a new sliding track for which the Swedes should have recruited the Nigerians or Rwandans as "guest users" of their new track.  But then again, they didn't ask me.  B)

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6 hours ago, Smitty said:

Sweden is running a large budget surplus, and has been for years. Its state could easily afford the Games--certainly much more than the Italian one; Swedish voters did not want to pay for this and it would rather that their government be debt-free (given the rate at which they are paying debt down is a real possibility soon). Not saying Sweden has no problems, but a lack of money isn't one of them. 

Sweden appears to lack the elite culture that makes getting the Olympics a high political priority. The Games are something local and national elites do to make a statement--to show the world that they can organise and stage the world's most logistically challenging event and marshal support for this. Swedes, arguably, don't feel the need to make a statement, unlike (say) the Milanese, who want to step out of Rome's shadow. (Anyone remember Expo 2015?). This felt more like "why not?" than "why so?" London's 2012 bid had lower public support than Paris, which they countered through having a better narrative and superior elite-IOC engagement; Stockholm just said they never hosted and that their bid ticked the Agenda 2020/New Norm boxes. That's...clearly not enough.

After the 2022 failure I'm mostly surprised that the SOK didn't learn any lessons. They did not get a real sports politician to front the bid; hire the right consultants early; create a narrative of "why?"; do public engagement; or, when Stockholm City Council became difficult, throw the city under the bus and build a case around Gothenburg (or another city). CONI's dumping of Torino should have been a sign of ruthlessness and a willingness to do what it takes to win. Maybe that is the real story here--that they don't want it badly enough.

The journalists who went on the evaluation visit said that the bid would have been workable, just that the Swedish public had little idea it was going on and was largely indifferent. Sweden hosts lots of world championships without it being big that big a deal, and this was treated no differently. That the Olympics are different is what Swedes need to admit to themselves.

Well put.  The sense I get is that the people involved in the bid didn't really sell it to the people of Sweden, perhaps in part because if they did, there would be push-back for those who didn't want it.  It just never registered there.  And the organizers made the mistake of assuming they would be enticing enough to the bid would sell itself.  Not all that surprising that the Italians did a better job of engaging with the IOC and that probably helped their cause.

To your last point.. the Swedes can make the case that they should have fit into a future narrative the IOC is trying to push.  But there was much more they could have done to entice the IOC.  This is pretty much the biggest sports prize they could hope to attain and I'm not so sure they acknowledged and acted like it.

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One thing is still very clear, though, that when the IOC has a choice, they will continue to do whatever they want & let the politics continue to rule, (or in this case, where will it be more “FUN”?!) - “Agenda 2020” or not.

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12 hours ago, Smitty said:

After the 2022 failure I'm mostly surprised that the SOK didn't learn any lessons.

I think they were being pushed by the IOC to bid. The IOC did not want a "race" with one contestant.

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^That may be so, but the SOK was all too eager to oblige the IOC as well. 

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I think the point he’s making is that the IOC moved heaven & earth to keep Stockholm in. If there’d been one more bid, then that may not have happened & Stockholm would’ve pulled out at around the same time as they did for 22. They might even have been eliminated at one of the early stages because of the binational aspect. Instead they were kept in with the express aim of preventing Italy completely dictating the terms, a la LA 84. 

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1 hour ago, FYI said:

^That may be so, but the SOK was all too eager to oblige the IOC as well. 

I would say that the SOK wanted to bid, and has wanted to for decades; it just has not been willing to take on even the domestic political risk to get them, especially since Sochi. The reforms to the bid procedure this week are a clear signal that domestic political risks are the responsibility of the host; if SOK wants these then it needs to build public support. They can take Agenda 2020 into account to make that case to the Swedish public, but they must take on that risk.

27 minutes ago, yoshi said:

I think the point he’s making is that the IOC moved heaven & earth to keep Stockholm in. If there’d been one more bid, then that may not have happened & Stockholm would’ve pulled out at around the same time as they did for 22. They might even have been eliminated at one of the early stages because of the binational aspect. Instead they were kept in with the express aim of preventing Italy completely dictating the terms, a la LA 84. 

Recall that Östersund came second for 2002; the evaluation commission for that year was headed by none other than Thomas Bach) They only lost because of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal; this must similarly sting, to be treated as a foil for the Italians. I think they were amateurish and naïve for 2026 but they were taken advantage of somewhat.

If the IOC is going to "approach" interested NOCs then it should approach SOK and look at something like a Gothenburg-Lillehammer bid (something like the Oslo 2022 plan but with the Swedish city at the centre and an x2000 tilting train (or similar) connecting the two clusters). This could well mean building nothing new apart from the Olympic Villages. They need ideas like this and a proper narrative (beyond low taxpayer funding) to sell to the public. I also think that they should go for this sooner rather than later.

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2 hours ago, yoshi said:

I think the point he’s making is that the IOC moved heaven & earth to keep Stockholm in. 

Exactly. The Swedish bid was very weak, but the IOC needed to keep it alive and the SOK gamely went along with it. I don't think you can blame a NOC itself for being willing to bid if the IOC publicly states multiple times that they are willing to accept a low cost games with mostly private funding. 

And in the end I can't even really blame the IOC's members for not wanting a spread out games requiring ferry rides, night trains or whatever to get around, and for not wanting to wait in limbo to see if the Swedish public and government would pull the rug from under their feet like Denver did.

I think the only fair criticism is to say the IOC shouldn't have been disingenuous with the Swedes, and should have been clearer about what they wanted rather than paying constant lip service to "Agenda 2020."

Edited by Nacre
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19 hours ago, Smitty said:

Sweden is running a large budget surplus, and has been for years. Its state could easily afford the Games--certainly much more than the Italian one; Swedish voters did not want to pay for this and it would rather that their government be debt-free (given the rate at which they are paying debt down is a real possibility soon). Not saying Sweden has no problems, but a lack of money isn't one of them. 

I am aware of this - however a surplus does not mean the Swedes want to divert billions to a couple of sporting events that have extremely dubious to non-existent social benefits and tend to spiral into massive cost over-runs.  There is a difference between being able to afford a Games and being able to justify spending on a Games.

The lack of interest and engagement is a huge issue as well - but considering in the past we have had huge differences in public support between independent polling and IOC polling - it should not have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

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14 minutes ago, thatsnotmypuppy said:

I am aware of this - however a surplus does not mean the Swedes want to divert billions to a couple of sporting events that have extremely dubious to non-existent social benefits and tend to spiral into massive cost over-runs.  There is a difference between being able to afford a Games and being able to justify spending on a Games.

The lack of interest and engagement is a huge issue as well - but considering in the past we have had huge differences in public support between independent polling and IOC polling - it should not have been the straw that broke the camel's back.

And yet it was.  Aside from polling, it seemed as though the Swedes simply weren't as engaged with the Olympic efforts as the Italians.  So that winds up being a big turn-off.

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4 hours ago, Nacre said:

Exactly. The Swedish bid was very weak, but the IOC needed to keep it alive and the SOK gamely went along with it. I don't think you can blame a NOC itself for being willing to bid if the IOC publicly states multiple times that they are willing to accept a low cost games with mostly private funding. 

And in the end I can't even really blame the IOC's members for not wanting a spread out games requiring ferry rides, night trains or whatever to get around, and for not wanting to wait in limbo to see if the Swedish public and government would pull the rug from under their feet like Denver did.

I think the only fair criticism is to say the IOC shouldn't have been disingenuous with the Swedes, and should have been clearer about what they wanted rather than paying constant lip service to "Agenda 2020."

What did they want though?  I'm guessing they made it pretty clear to them that political and financial support was necessarily and that the IOC simply wasn't comfortable with what they were seeing.  Besides, it's not like the Italian bid isn't spread out over a pretty wide region.  So they're not without their own pitfalls.  Of course the IOC was going to do everything they could to keep this from being a 1 horse race, but how disingenuous were they really being?  We've discussed the whole Agenda 2020/New Norm thing to death here, but it constantly gets forgotten that Agenda 2020 isn't about finding the right city to host the Olympics.  It's (supposed to be) to create the means for cities to work better with the IOC to deliver an Olympics.  And at the end of the day, Sweden simply didn't have what the IOC was looking for.

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5 hours ago, Smitty said:

Recall that Östersund came second for 2002; the evaluation commission for that year was headed by none other than Thomas Bach) They only lost because of the Salt Lake City bribery scandal; this must similarly sting, to be treated as a foil for the Italians. I think they were amateurish and naïve for 2026 but they were taken advantage of somewhat.

If the IOC is going to "approach" interested NOCs then it should approach SOK and look at something like a Gothenburg-Lillehammer bid (something like the Oslo 2022 plan but with the Swedish city at the centre and an x2000 tilting train (or similar) connecting the two clusters). This could well mean building nothing new apart from the Olympic Villages. They need ideas like this and a proper narrative (beyond low taxpayer funding) to sell to the public. I also think that they should go for this sooner rather than later.

Bullshit.  Salt Lake was within a few votes of winning the `98 Olympics in a vote that took place less than a year after Atlanta's win.  Then they're back 4 years later and win it on the first ballot against 3 other cities.  The bribery scandal was a part of that, but let's not paint a picture that Ostersund would have been the winner if not for what happened behind the scenes.

Remains to be seen what the new approach for the IOC will be, but it only works if there's interest on the other side.  As much as the IOC can entice various NOC's to bid, it's almost a waste of time to start calling up those countries and trying to get them into the mix.  At least we've already reached a point where the IOC is more than willing to dump bids they know won't pass the grade much moreso than in the old days when they shortlisted candidates and usually kept more involved than necessary.  That should be a thing of the past (hopefully)

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