French bid to host 2030 Winter Olympics talks with Italy, Netherlands to stage speed skating

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The favoured French candidacy to host the 2030 Winter Olympics is in talks with the Netherlands and Italy to stage speed skating races.

The cross-border option was detailed on Monday by International Olympic Committee officials ahead of a visit next week to proposed venues in French Alps ski resorts and Nice, the upscale French Riviera coastal city.

Nice does not have enough venues for all Olympic events on ice and the IOC now encourages hosts to avoid construction costs by finding cheaper solutions abroad.

“We have several candidates with whom the French team will discuss,” the IOC executive director of the Olympic Games, Christophe Dubi, said in an online briefing.

Dubi suggested France’s neighbors Italy — which will host the 2026 Winter Games in Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo — and the Netherlands, a longtime power in speed skating. The Dutch team won six speed skating gold medals at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, including three for Irene Schouten.

The French Alps bid is expected to be confirmed as the 2030 host at a July 23-24 meeting of the IOC in Paris on the eve of the Summer Games. The 2034 Winter Games host also should be decided in Paris, with Salt Lake City, Utah, the preferred candidate.

The IOC gives members a single candidate to approve rather than ask rival bids to campaign ahead of a contested vote. The new process cuts costs and avoids the risk of more vote-buying scandals.

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The French bid for 2030 was preferred by the IOC executive board in November ahead of proposals from Sweden and Switzerland which did not require building any venues. The Swedish bid centered on Stockholm planned to use a bobsled track across the Baltic Sea in Latvia.

The IOC also has urged Italian organizers of the next Winter Games to use a bobsled track in neighboring Austria or Switzerland instead of spending tens of millions of euros (dollars) renovating a venue in Cortina.

Italian officials did take a cost-effective option for speed skating by choosing a temporary track at a conference center venue in Milan.

Dubi said on Monday a temporary speed skating venue also could work in 2030 because “we now know that it is doable with all the guarantees needed for ice quality.”

IOC officials and selected members start a five-day visit in France next Monday and will end the week with a news conference in Nice. The inspection team is scheduled to deliver a report in June to the IOC board to prepare for confirmation in Paris.

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