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2026 Winter Olympics have first official bid city

Cross-Country Skiing - Winter Olympics Day 12

SOCHI, RUSSIA - FEBRUARY 19: (R-L) Emil Joensson of Sweden, Iivo Niskanen of Finland, Maciej Kreczmer of Poland and Simeon Hamilton of the United States lead a group past the Olympic rings as they compete in the Men’s Team Sprint Classic Semifinals during day 12 of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics at Laura Cross-country Ski & Biathlon Center on February 19, 2014 in Sochi, Russia. (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

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The first 2026 Winter Olympic bid comes from Sion, Switzerland.

The southwestern Switzerland town’s candidature was confirmed by the Swiss Parliament of Sport on Tuesday. The Swiss Olympic Committee heralds it as “the Games in the heart of Switzerland.”

Sion, with a population listed around 30,000, could be the smallest Olympic host city since Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994. The Sion bid includes some events potentially being held in Bern, Lausanne and St. Moritz. More information is here (French, German).

“This clear message from Swiss sport is very important to us,” Swiss Olympic president Juerg Stahl said in a press release after a unanimous vote of approval. “It shows that the foundations of the Sion 2026 project are solid. It is also important to us as we are entering the next stage of the project, which is to gather federal support.”

Switzerland has hosted the Olympics twice, both Winter Games in St. Moritz (1928 and 1948).

Sion previously was a finalist to host the 1976, 2002 and 2006 Winter Olympics, finishing runner-up in voting every time.

Switzerland first announced it was pursuing a bid last March. A possible bid from St. Moritz and Davos was rejected by voters in February.

Cities in Austria, Canada, Japan and Sweden have also discussed potential 2026 bids, as has Lillehammer. The U.S. is not expected to bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

The next two Winter Olympics will be in East Asia in PyeongChang, South Korea, in 2018 and Beijing in 2022, giving a European or North American city a greater opening to be the 2026 host.

The 2026 Olympic host city is expected to be chosen from an International Olympic Committee members vote in 2019.

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