IOC pushes back on $90M plan to rebuild Olympics bobsled track

The IOC wants to use an existing track in 2026. Bobsled, luge and skeleton make up 12 of the 116 Winter Olympics events.
A view of the bobsled track in Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy.
Posted at 5:13 PM, Jan 31, 2024

The International Olympic Committee is still not impressed with Italy's determination to spend about $90 million rebuilding a historic bobsled track for the 2026 Winter Games.

The IOC's latest statement Wednesday on the public rift came one day after local organizers of the Milan-Cortina d'Ampezzo Olympics moved ahead with a plan to revive a century-old sliding track in the Dolomites ski resort.

Aiming to avoid construction costs and potential white elephant venues, the IOC wants the Winter Games, opening in just two years' time, to use an existing track — with two nearby options in St. Moritz, Switzerland and Igls, Austria.

The issue has become one of Italian national pride to avoid paying another country to stage 12 of the 116 medal events.

"The IOC firmly believes that the existing number of sliding centers, globally, is sufficient for the current number of athletes and competitions in the sports of bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton," the Olympic body said in a statement.

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The IOC's opposition to an Italian renewal project on such a tight schedule — either at Cortina or Cesana, the now-closed sliding track at the 2006 Turin Olympics that was previously considered — has been publicly clear since its annual meeting in October held in Mumbai, India.

"(Only) existing and already operating tracks should be considered due to the very tight timeline remaining," the IOC said in a statement, stating it had been "unequivocal that no permanent venue should be built without a clear and viable legacy plan."

Italy's deputy prime minister detailed his country’s position Tuesday.

"It is not acceptable for the bobsled races to take place outside Italy," Antonio Tajani said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter. "We will do everything to achieve the goal."

Still, the Italian organizing committee aims to have a back-up plan if renovating the Cortina track used at the 1956 Winter Games is not ready by March next year.

The committee said after a board meeting Tuesday its plans rest on signing a contract with a Parma-based construction company that has offered to rebuild the Cortina track for $89 million.