Italy wins bid for 2026 Winter Olympics

Italy won the bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics on Monday and will host the games in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo. 

The vote took place at the 134th Session of the International Olympic Committee in Lausanne, Switzerland. IOC members voted for the Milan-Cortina bid by 47 votes over Stockholm-Are, which received 34 votes. There was one abstention by IOC President Thomas Bach. 

In a nine-hour meeting, Italy and Sweden's had made their final pitches to the IOC, with Italy's Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte taking the stage to stress his country's unity behind the bid. 

"If I am here today in front of you, it is thanks to the enthusiasm of all Italy... This is the dream of an entire country, and not only the government but also the regions," Conte said. 

One of the slides shown earlier in the 30-minute presentation highlighted that 83 percent of the Italian population are in favor of the games — rising to 87 percent in Milan.

The Winter Games will return to Italy just 20 years after Turin hosted in 2006. Cortina d'Ampezzo, a ski town in northern Italy, previously hosted the Winter Games in 1956.

Sweden's prime minister, Stefan Lofven, said he told IOC voters his country can overcome doubts and deliver a successful 2026 Winter Games.

"It's in the Swedish model, it's in our DNA," Lofven said at a news conference. 

Sweden has never hosted the Winter Games, but Stockholm was the host of the 1912 Summer Games.

In a campaign noted for political uncertainty in Sweden and Italy, the IOC relaxed its old rules and gave Stockholm-Are and Milan-Cortina more time to secure key guarantees of finance and security.

The IOC also wanted the 2026 Winter Olympics to showcase new flexibility in bidding, including cost-cutting by avoiding construction of white elephant venues.

Italy's bid team presented confidence that the nation's economic problems would not prevent it from staging a successful 2026 Winter Games.

Italy Undersecretary of State Giancarlo Giorgetti believes that hosting the games would only benefit Italy's economy.

"It will be very good for the economy of our region but also for Italy and for tourism in the Alp region. The Italian government believes that this sporting event will be a driving force for the economy as well," Giorgetti said. 

The vote was at the same SwissTech conference center in Lausanne where two years earlier IOC members agreed to combine the 2024 and 2028 Olympic votes — making winners of both Paris and Los Angeles.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.