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NEWS

Italy minister sounds alarm on delays ahead of 2026 Winter Olympics

MILAN (Reuters) – Italian Economy Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti said on Friday he was increasingly worried about delays in preparations for the 2026 Winter Olympics, which are to be held in Milan and the Alpine town of Cortina d’Ampezzo.

The two venues were officially named as the 2026 Winter Olympic hosts almost five years ago, in June 2019.

“There are two years left, time is running out terribly fast and it’s becoming almost impossible to respect the schedule,” Giorgetti was quoted as saying by ANSA and other Italian news agencies at an event in Sondrio north of Milan.

Giorgetti said he was “beginning to regret” having backed Italy’s bid for the Olympics, though he later backtracked on this comment, saying it was a joke.

“Let’s see what we can do to avoid missing this historic opportunity,” he said, adding that he was issuing “a last wake-up call”.

On Friday the government said it had signed a deal with a construction firm to build a bobsleigh track in Cortina, aiming to resolve a long-running area of delay and uncertainty.

The Olympic Games are an opportunity for countries to boost their image and local economies but they also impose a burden on public finances.

According to a study by Britain’s Oxford University in 2020, since 1960 the Games have overspent their budgets by an average of 172%.

In 2012, when Italy was struggling with a debt crisis, Mario Monti’s government refused to nominate Rome for the 2020 Olympics in order not to undermine the fragile state finances.

 

(Reporting by Claudia Cristoferi, editing by Gavin Jones and Gareth Jones)

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