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Bidding for 2026 Olympics could shrink to a two-horse race as Stockholm looks to pull out

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The troubled bidding process for the 2026 could become a two-horse race, after a newly-elected Stockholm City Government said no taxpayer money should be "wasted" on hosting the Games.

A new coalition – which includes an environmentalist party – was elected to run Stockholm's city government last month and it made a pledge to offer no public money for the Games.

In response, The IOC said it had "not yet" had any official confirmation of a decision for Stockholm to pull out.

Stockholm's bid team said it will open a dialogue with the new city government to share its plans for hosting the Olympics.

If Stockholm does pull out, it would become the fifth city to cancel its bid for the 2026 Games, following the withdrawals of Sion, Switzerland; Graz, Austria; Sapporo, Japan; and Erzurum, Turkey.

Stockholm's exit would leave just two candidates in the process – Canadian city Calgary and a joint bid from Italian cities Milan and Cortina.

The bids from Calgary and Italy have hit snags of their own and have hurdles to clear before being able to fully commit to a bid.

Calgary has been forced into putting the final decision whether to make a bid to a public vote, which will take place on 13 November.

Meanwhile, the Italian bid originally included three cities – Turin, Milan and Cortina – but collapsed due to divisions between the three city governments. The two cities then decided to "rescue" the bid and go it alone – but have yet to gather the required level of funding support.

The lack of interest in cities hosting Olympic Games is becoming a critical issue for the IOC.

There were a total of five bids which were initially submitted for the 2024 Summer Olympics, but following withdrawals, only two bidding cities – Paris and Los Angeles – were left in the process.

As a result, the IOC agreed to award the 2024 and 2028 Games simultaneously – with Los Angeles agreeing to bid for the 2028 Games, effectively awarding the 2024 Games to Paris.

Earlier this month, IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. admitted that the organisation has a problem.

"We have to make a huge effort in explaining ourselves better," he said, commenting on concerns on the cost of hosting the Games.

“(Our message) is not getting across with sufficient strength.”

The host city for the 2026 Games is set to be announced in June 2019, following a vote by the IOC council.

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The troubled bidding process for the 2026 could become a two-horse race, after a newly-elected Stockholm City Government said no taxpayer money should be "wasted" on hosting the Games.
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