Taxpayers look set to be off the hook for Stockholm 2026
By Jonathan Rest in PyeongChang
Swedish taxpayers are unlikely to have to foot any of the bill for a winter Olympic Games in Stockholm in 2026, bid chief executive Richard Brisius has told Sportcal.
Stockholm 2026 is in the final stages of signing off its operational budget, but Brisius revealed that following minor amendments to the games plan and talks with the International Olympic Committee, it is “lower than the Skr13.8 billion ($1.71 billion) presented a year ago.”
The infrastructure budget, meanwhile, has been “more than halved” from the original SKr2.8 billion.
Speaking to Sportcal from Sweden Arena, the SOK's (Swedish Olympic Committee’s) hospitality house in PyeongChang, Brisius said: “We have started this series of expert group visits from the IOC. We had a great session with the finance and guarantee group in Stockholm. They seem positive about our budget and how we structured it. That’s a big job that will continue.
“The budget is very small. The only thing we plan to build - we don’t need to build anything - for legacy reasons is an ice hall. We have one in Stockholm but we need a second one for speed skating, ice hockey and figure skating on the south side of the city. And we need a Nordic ski track area in Stockholm because while it has the most skiers in Sweden, we do not have a proper ski track area, so there has been a plan for a long time by the [national ski] federation to build that.”
The bid team has two options for the Olympic Village, with both sites already part of a planned city-wide housing project. Stockholm 2026 will rent the accommodation at one of the sites during the games for athlete housing.
Brisius explained: “As a fast-growing city we have several housing projects planned. Timing-wise for 2026 there are currently two that fit into our planning. The choice will come down to which one offers us the best security in terms of being ready and the rental cost.”
On how the games will be financed, Brisius said: “It’s all private money. We have not budgeted for any taxpayer income.
“The city has done so much investment already. We have three enormous multi-use arenas in Stockholm, we have all the hotels and the local transport network, so we have so much in place. Combine that with the contribution from the IOC, which is significant – it is over half our operational budget – and we are in a comfortable place.”
The IOC confirmed last month that it will contribute $925 million to the 2026 host city.
The SOK spent much of 2017 fighting to keep Stockholm's bid on track amid reports of a lack of political support for the campaign.
The Social Democrats, the largest party in a coalition ruling the Swedish capital, were initially in favour of the bid, but there has been wider concern over the associated costs of bidding for and hosting an Olympic Games.
Brisius claimed that the bid’s “solid financial case” has allayed such concerns.
He added: “When people in general, and smart politicians in particular, see and understand the impact and changes that come around from Agenda 2020 [the IOC plan to make bidding for and hosting the Olympics cheaper] and actually see that it is a reality, they think it’s outstanding. They are more positive that the new Olympic era is coming.”
After the PyeongChang Olympics have finished, Stockholm 2026 and the SOK will re-engage with politicians in Sweden to ensure “greater consensus” for the bid.
Brisius continued: “We won’t necessarily have a vote in parliament [to back the games] because we are not asking for money, but there are the guarantees around safety and security.”
As with Stockholm’s withdrawn bid for the 2022 winter Olympics, Alpine skiing would take place in Åre, some 380 miles north of the capital, where the 2019 Alpine World Ski Championships will be held.
Sweden has never hosted the winter Olympics, although the summer games took place in Stockholm in 1912. Ostersund, Falun, and Gothenburg have all mounted unsuccessful bids for the winter edition.
Other possible bidders for the 2026 games include Sion in Switzerland, Sapporo in Japan and Calgary in Canada.
The games will be awarded at the IOC Session in Milan, Italy in September 2019.