Seven cities confirm interest in 2026 Winter Games

(Reuters) - Seven cities, or joint-bidding cities, have expressed interest in hosting the 2026 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee said on Tuesday.

Canada?s Calgary, Austria?s Graz, Swedish capital Stockholm, Sion in Switzerland, Turkey?s Erzurum, Japan?s Sapporo and a joint bid from Italy?s Cortina d?Ampezzo, Milan and Turin are all in the initial process.

There is considerable Olympic experience in the field with Calgary having hosted the 1988 Winter Games and Sapporo having staged the 1972 edition.

Cortina is also a former host, having organized the 1956 Winter Olympics.

The cities will now enter a dialogue stage until October when the IOC will invite an unspecified number of them to take part in the one-year candidature phase.

The IOC has overhauled the bidding process for Games after a sharp slump in interest from potential cities in recent years, cutting costs for bid cities and slashing the campaign time in half.

It has also simplified the seven-year preparation for Games organizers, reducing costs, upping the IOC?s contribution and allowing host cities more flexibility in planning for the Olympics and the post-Games use of facilities.

The IOC will elect the winning 2026 Winter Olympic bid at its session in Milan in 2019.