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Sion 2026 Olympics Swiss poll finds strong opposition to 2026 Winter Games

Former Swiss alpine ski racing champion Pirmin Zurbriggen on the peak of Matterhorn.

Former Swiss alpine ski racing champion Pirmin Zurbriggen lights a symbolic torch in support of the Sion 2026 Winter Olympics project on the summit of the Matterhorn peak on February 8, 2018

(Keystone)

Most Swiss oppose holding the Winter Olympics in western Switzerland in 2026, a newspaper survey has revealed. Only 36% of people taking part in the poll support the so-called Sion 2026 bid. 

In an opinion poll external linkpublished in Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung newspapers on Sunday, 43% of people said they were against the Sion 2026 bid and 16% said were “quite against” the idea. Only 20% said they were in favour, while 16% said they were “quite in favour”; 5% had no opinion. 

The survey showed that 55% of over-65s totally oppose the project, while 17% are “quite against” it. Among 18-34-year-olds, only 29% were in favour, while 42% were against the idea. 

The majority of people (42%) were against the general idea of holding Olympic Games in Switzerland, while 18% were "quite against". Around 21% thought it was a good idea, while 16% were "quite in favour".

The Swiss Olympic Committee and the Swiss government are backing a joint proposal by Sion, the capital of canton Valais, to host the 2026 Winter Games spread across the cantons of Valais, Vaud, Bern and Fribourg and based largely on existing infrastructure. Last October, the Swiss government wholeheartedly endorsed the Sion bid, promising to contribute almost CHF1 billion ($1.018 billion), if it is chosen. 

A final vote on the host city by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will take place in summer 2019. However, in Switzerland parliament still needs to ratify the funding, and voters in canton Valais will also have a decisive say on Sion 2026 funding in a local referendum on June 10. In February 2017, voters in canton Graubünden scuppered a joint bid by Davos and St Moritz for the same 2026 games.

Switzerland hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1928 and 1948. Since then, it has submitted numerous unsuccessful bids, with Sion losing out three times: 1976, 2002 and 2006. Other cities interested in hosting the 2026 Winter Games include Graz-Schladming in Austria, Stockholm in Sweden, Calgary in Canada, and Sapporo in Japan. 

SDA-ATS/sb

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