Olympic flame lit in Italy as 83% support 2026 Winter Games: IOC

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Winter Olympics Milano Cortina bid IOC Evaluation Commission poses in the San Siro stadium, in Milan, Italy, on April 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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President of the Italian National Olympic Committee, CONI, Giovanni Malago' talks during a winter Olympics Milan Cortina bid IOC Evaluation Commission meeting, in Milan, Italy, on April 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Antonio Calanni)
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Deputy Prime Minister of Italy and Minister of Interior, Matteo Salvini, holds a Milan-Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics candidate city flag upon his arrival at a meeting with the IOC evaluation commission, in Milan, Italy, on April 5, 2019. (Daniel Dal Zennaro/ANSA via AP)
Updated 07 April 2019

Olympic flame lit in Italy as 83% support 2026 Winter Games: IOC

  • Stockholm is the only city in competition with Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo
  • The Italian government is providing the financial guarantees for the bid amounting to 415 million euros ($465 million)

MILAN, Italy: Support for Italy’s bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo has grown with 83 percent of Italians now backing the project, according to poll carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
IOC evaluation commission chairman Octavian Morariu revealed the figures Saturday after an inspection of proposed sites in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Morariu described the joint bid by Italy’s financial capital and Dolomites ski resort Cortina D’Ampezzo as a “very competitive proposition.”
“After our five days here, we can say that the overwhelming popular support demonstrated by the latest IOC poll is not a surprise,” Morariu told a press conference.
In Milan, 87 percent are in favor of the Olympics, while in the region of Lombardy, of which Milan is the capital, it was 81 percent and Cortina’s Veneto region, 80 percent.
Similar polls carried out in Sweden, where Stockholm is the only city in competition with Italy, put the figure at 53 percent.
“Wherever we went we felt welcome,” continued Morariu of the visit which began in Venice.
Under the bid figure skating, hockey and short-track speedskating would be held in Milan, with sliding sports and curling in Cortina; and speedskating, biathlon and Nordic sports would take place at Trentino-Alto Adige.
The alpine skiing events would be in Bormio for the men and Cortina for women while the opening ceremony would be at the San Siro football stadium, with the closing ceremony at Verona’s Arena, a large Roman amphitheater.
“We found a great candidature team, that put a lot of passion and enthusiasm into the work,” said Morariu.
“This is really very, very strong.”

Financial guarantees
Despite darkening clouds gathering over Italy’s economy, the Italian government on Friday officially provided the financial guarantees for the bid amounting to 415 million euros ($465 million).
“There’s a strong support from the government, local communities, athletes and the financial community,” said Morariu.
“The letter we received yesterday from the government proved it.”
Former Romanian rugby international Morariu said the IOC would invest a further $920 million into the project.
“The Olympic Games are a catalyst for social and environmental change and also a true business opportunity,” he said.
Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala said local people overwhelmingly backed the project.
“We want to win!” said Sala.
“The Olympic Games could provide a fundamental opportunity for our city.”
Stockholm have yet to receive full backing from the Swedish government with the deadline for providing guarantees officially April 12.
“What matters is that we receive the guarantees in due time, have time to analyze them and have them approved by the committee by June 24,” said Morariu referring to the date when the winning bid will be chosen in Lausanne.
“This is the date that matters.”
Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) president Giovanni Malago said they hoped that their “track record” would convince the IOC to choose them over Sweden.
“Italy has a long history of organizing great sports events. We hope this tradition can continue in 2026,” added Malago.
Italy have hosted the Olympic three times, with the 1956 and 2006 Winter Games held in Cortina and Turin respectively, and Rome hosting the 1960 Summer Games.

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

Updated 22 July 2019

Princess becomes first Saudi woman to head sports club

  • Princess Nourah thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future

RIYADH: Princess Nourah bint Saad has officially become the first Saudi woman to be president of a sports club. Italian news outlet Corriere Della Sera reported recently that the princess had successfully acquired the Umbrian football club Spoleto.

Speaking at a press conference, the princess thanked her hosts for the hospitality and outlined her ambitions for the team’s future. 

“Football is a family passion, and Italian football is followed all over the world. This is why I chose to invest in Umbria,” she said. 

Princess Nourah chose the team after considering several aspects. “Spoleto is a small, amateur football organization where it is possible to work with the aim of growing and aiming for promotion. But we cannot fail to consider the value and beauty of the city of Spoleto, which is famous throughout the world.” Spoleto is a member of Serie D of the Italian non-professional football association, Lega Nazionale Dilettanti.  The association represents more than 12,000 football players and 400 football teams across Italy and is considered the fourth-ranked league in the country. Under the princess’s presidency, the team aims to ascend to Serie C in the near future, and further in the long term.

Spoleto announced that they have formally registered for the Excellence Umbria 2019/2020 championship and the Regional Junior Championship 2019/2020.

This purchase marks the Saudi royal family’s second venture into sports club ownership. Prince Abdullah bin Musa’ad co-owns English Premier League football club Sheffield United.