Organizers for 2026 Olympics seeking new speedskating venue

Jan 21, 2023, 6:46 PM | Updated: Jan 22, 2023, 8:47 am
FILE - Netherlands' team compete during the Winter Olympics women's speedskating team pursuit at th...

FILE - Netherlands' team compete during the Winter Olympics women's speedskating team pursuit at the Oval Lingotto in Turin, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 15, 2006. Speedskating for the 2026 Milan-Cortina Olympics appears destined to be held at the Turin oval after the IOC rejected plans to build an expensive roof over the outdoor track at Baselga di Piné. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

(AP Photo/Koji Sasahara, File)

MILAN (AP) — Speedskating 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 Piné.

Costs for the roof were initially slated at 50 million euros ($54 million), according to a project announced in November. But there were concerns that actual costs could rise by at least 50%.

“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 Malagò, 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,” Malagò 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, Malagò 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 speedskating at the existing indoor oval built for the 2006 Turin Games.

“It’s not automatic,” Malagò 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 15 million euros ($16 million) to reinstall the system.

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

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