Exclusive: Australia to bid for 2026 Winter Olympics
Australia is preparing a feasibility study to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in the NSW Snowy Mountains town of Jindabyne with the unprecedented prospect of Thredbo and Perisher working together for the event.
Sources close to the Australian Olympic Committee told The Snow Gauge exclusively that it was confident a winnable bid could be mounted in the next six months.
It comes off the back of just two bidders vying for the 2022 event and no serious candidates putting their hand up for 2026.
“With interest in hosting these events dwindling the IOC approached us with the thought of having a budget Games,” the AOC spokesperson told The Snow Gauge on condition of anonymity. “To that end we thought Jindabyne fitted the bill perfectly.”
While there was much mirth over comedians Roy and HG mounting a mock campaign for Smiggins Holes back in 2010 this one it seems is very real – and could have some legs.
The IOC has reportedly been keen on a southern hemisphere host for a winter games for some time and has spoken glowingly of Australia’s ability to host world class events such as the Sydney 2000 Games, football’s Asian Cup and Cooma’s Community Chest Fashionation.
A South American and New Zealand location were also being considered but speaking to The Snow Gauge over the phone from Lucerne, Switzerland, an IOC spokesperson said Australia was the preferred candidate from the region.
“With Rio hosting the summer Games this year it was probably too soon for another event of that magnitude in the region. As for New Zealand – well, we love their mountains and they are certainly coming along nicely in sports like cricket and men’s softball but we have real concerns about the infrastructure. Some of their roads are scarier than an IOC member’s expense claims,” she said.
One sticking point is the lack of vertical drop to meet the minimum requirement to run a downhill. But with decommissioning of Thredbo’s Ramshead Chairlift it is understood there is scope to build a new lift almost to the top of Kosciuszko, offering around 800m of vert.
“The side benefit of this is that the world’s easiest of the seven summits will be that much easier. It will become a 37 metre round trip that even my 92 year-old nanna could do,” said a Thredbo spokesperson. “We’ll pack ’em in here, year round.”
While it is understood the heritage listed Thredbo Alpine Hotel, Ski Tube and Mt Perisher double will stay, a raft of other developments for the Olympics will occur.
Perisher has been marked down to host the freestyle events with Thredbo the alpine portion and the ski jumping. Jindabyne will likely get a major injection of funds of up to $1.5 billion for the Olympics with a series of new indoor facilities. However a regular bus service between the slopes and Jindy has already been shouted down as being “unnecessary, unworkable and cost prohibitive” by local transport groups. Similarly a combined access pass for Thredbo and Perisher has been described as “completely untenable”.
The IOC member also revealed cross country may potentially be canned because of a lack of interest, along with snowboarding’s parallel giant slalom.
A Perisher spokesperson would not comment on what developments may go ahead at the resort.
“All we can say is that if the Olympics go ahead it will be epic,” the spokesperson said. “It would be like a cloak, no actually a veil, had been lifted on the region.”
At this stage the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) was relatively cool on the proposal but said it would do what it could to ensure Australia would have a viable bid. “Obviously competing to the top of Kosciuszko is something that would have to be monitored very closely,” a spokesperson said. “Normally any kind of even minor development may take 40-60 years just for the paper work to be acknowledged. In the circumstances we could probably get that dropped to under 10 years but it is going to take some serious coin. I’d suggest we could be looking at a 1500 per cent increase in national park entry fees over the next decade.”
The spokesperson would not comment on what he described as an “unrelated” $50 million proposed upgrade to the NPWS offices at Jindabyne. “Pure speculation,” he said. “Anyway, something of that magnitude could take weeks to get approved.”
Subscribe To Our Newsletter and win! Weekly prizes start June 9.
Join our mailing list to receive the latest ski and snowboard news and win prizes each week during the Southern Hemisphere Winter. Old and new subscribers are eligible.