Organizers for 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics seeking new speed skating venue

Speed skating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics might be moved to the Turin oval or a temporary facility elsewhere after the IOC rejected plans to build an expensive roof over the outdoor track at Baselga di Pine.

IOC rejects plans to build expensive roof over outdoor track at Baselga di Pine

A group of 11 people pose for a picture, holding Italian flags over the Olympic symbol of five rings.
President of both the 2026 organizing committee and the Italian Olympic Committee Giovanni Malago, seen in the centre here at the announcement of Milano and Cortina as the host cities for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in 2019, said on Sunday they were discussing different options of where to host speed skating events after the IOC rejected plans to build a roof over the outdoor track at Baselga di Pine. (Denis Balibouse/REUTERS)

Speed skating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics might be moved to the Turin oval or a temporary facility elsewhere after the IOC rejected plans to build an expensive roof over the outdoor track at Baselga di Pine.

Costs for the roof were initially slated at the equivalent of $54 million US, according to a project announced in November. But there were concerns that actual costs could rise by at least 50 per cent.

"The IOC said the investment was underestimated and not sustainable for the area and the IOC reserves the right to point the way in terms of executing the games," said Giovanni Malago, president of both the 2026 organizing committee and the Italian Olympic Committee.

"I defended the original masterplan but there comes a time when you can no longer defend the undefendable," Malago added. "Everything that has happened since then, from COVID to the war [in Ukraine], has gone against us. Baselga is not a victim but rather one of the issues that arise systematically during the organization of an international event like the Olympics."

While officials in the Trentino region are still hoping to rebuild the Baselga track, Malago said Friday during a visit to the oval that he's hoping Trentino and Lombardy can bid to host the Youth Winter Olympics for 2028.

Building a roof over the Baselga track was not included in the official Milan-Cortina budget in an era of increasing sensitivity about the cost of staging the Olympics — and the typical overspending funded by taxpayers. There have been calls from the start of Italy's 2026 bid to hold speed skating at the existing indoor oval built for the 2006 Turin Games.

"It's not automatic," Malago said about the possible move to Turin. "We will discuss all of the different possibilities."

Ice-making facilities were removed from the Turin oval and it would cost an estimated $16 million to reinstall the system.

Besides Turin, other possibilities might include building a temporary track inside a convention centre in the Lombardy or the Veneto regions that contain Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo, respectively.

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