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
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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.


Chelsea moves into top 4 after draw with Burnley

Updated 23 April 2019
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Chelsea moves into top 4 after draw with Burnley

  • Chelsea moves into the final Champions League qualifying spot

LONDON: Chelsea moved into the Premier League’s top four on Monday with a frustrating 2-2 draw with Burnley.
Goals two minutes apart from N’Golo Kante and Gonzalo Higuain put Chelsea on top at Stamford Bridge after Jeff Hendrick had given Burnley an early lead.
But Ashley Barnes pulled the visitors even in the 24th minute and Chelsea was unable to get the winner despite dominating possession and finishing with 22 shots.
Chelsea moves into the final Champions League qualifying spot, one point above Arsenal and three ahead of Manchester United, but has played one game more.
Burnley, meanwhile, all but guaranteed its Premier League status for another season.
The Clarets are nine points above Cardiff in the final relegation place with three games left and have a far superior goal difference.