A key point of Sweden’s bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is the fantastic level of existing venues and infrastructure which would enable the event to be hosted
Peter Reinebo, Operations Manager at the Swedish Olympic Committee, provides a guide on which facilities and venues a Winter Olympics and Paralympics in Sweden would use.
The goal is to build as little as possible. Over 90 percent of the arenas needed to host the Games are already available – the only thing that would need to be built is an ice-skating rink and a ski area.
“We see the Åre 2019 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships as basically Åre 2026, with the alpine skiing races,” explains Reinebo. “Then, freestyle and snowboarding will be located in Åre, but we will also make sure that we get races in Stockholm’s Hammarbybacken.”
Falun already has the necessary jumps for ski jumping – and they’ll also be used for Nordic combined.
“We could also do cross-country ski races in Falun,” continues Reinebo. “But cross-country skiing and biathlon in Stockholm gives us an opportunity to build a facility in the city. That construction would be about everyday life, building something long-lasting not just for the 17 days of the competition, but for generations ahead.”
This proposed new ski area in Stockholm consists of two possible options. An international event such as the Winter Olympics and Paralympics requires a certain type of typography on the ski slopes in order to meet the Olympic criteria. The alternatives are Bisslinge, more famous for golf, and Hamra, located in Botkyrka.
Regarding sliding sports, Reinebo sees the opportunity to collaborate and share the competitions with Latvia. As Sweden has no facility, and building one would cost a lot of money, a collaboration with the Latvian city of Sigulda has been established.
“It’s not sustainable to build this kind of facility for just 17 days, and the risk is that after the Games it could become a burden to care for and maintain. For that reason, we’re working with Latvia for a solution.
“Sigulda has a bobsleigh, luge and skeleton track ready to be renovated. They are good at arranging competitions, and there is already a lot of public interest there.”
He continues: “Latvia has World Cup competitions every year and wants more, as they’re important for the country. It’s a nation that can’t be an Olympic host on its own, but with this collaboration, it’s possible to give them that opportunity, which I think is amazing.”
Ice Hockey will be played in the Ericsson Globe, which would be the main arena, and in Scaniarinken in Södertälje.
“The Globe is to be renovated, which is perfect timing as everything will be ready by 2021,” says Reinebo. “And Södertälje is a hockey city. Therefore, it’s very satisfying that we can also use an arena there (the Scaniarinken).”
Tele2 Arena would become the home of figure skating and short track. “There is a lot of interest in figure skating, and it’s always full,” adds Reinebo. “Tele2 Arena is big and has a large spectator capacity. If we fill it during the figure skating program, it will be a public record in the Olympic context.”
The new speed skating arena is supposed to be completed many years before the Games. Today, there are dozens of ice halls in the Stockholm area, but the venue could also be used for figure skating, curling and skating. There are several municipalities in the Stockholm region who are interested in building the facility, but exactly where is not yet decided.
And let’s not forget the Olympic Stadium in Stockholm. As the world’s oldest Olympic venue still in use, it’s only right to give it the spotlight – and it will be used for Big Air and Aerials.
“Clearly, we have to use it – there, the circle closes,” says Reinebo. “1912 and 2026, twice the Olympic arena, once for the Summer Games and once for the Winter Games. History and the present, it couldn’t be better.”
In Hammarbybacken, there will be parallel slalom. “Spectacular,” continues Reinebo. “Right in the middle of town overlooking it all. There will be stunning photos from the top there that will go around the world.”
The medal ceremonies will take place below Stockholm Castle, where there will be an events area; in Kungsträdgården there will be an activity park.
“The Opening Ceremony would be hosted in the Friends Arena. “It’s central, and everyone can get there with public transit,” explains Reinebo.
But there’s something even more special in store for the Closing Ceremony, which will “take place in a number of arenas at the same time”. “It’s never been tried before, and that’s a big ambition,” Reinebo continues. “This makes it possible for many more to experience the event. What’s interesting is that, in the Opening Ceremony, all countries enter as separate teams, with their flag first – but at the end, all come together in a mix. Countries, religions, different cultures, that’s what the Olympic Games are all about.”