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Bach says ‘only 10 countries’ can stage Winter Olympics

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach. Photo: Indranil Mukherjee/AFP

Only 10 countries are now capable of staging an Olympic or Paralympic Winter Games under existing criteria due to climate change, according to International Olympic Committee president Thomas Bach.

Natural snow is in increasingly short supply in some regions due to rising temperatures, with a lack of available water for snow-making threatening the existence of the global snow-sport industry.

Bach, speaking at a press conference following the second day of an IOC executive board meeting in Mumbai, said a preliminary study by the IOC’s future host commission had found that by 2040 only 10 nations would be able to host the snow events of an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

“By 2040, there remain, practically, just 10 National Olympic Committees who could host these snow events of the Olympic Winter Games,” Bach said.

“From these numbers it becomes even clearer that we need to address very quickly this dramatic impact of climate change on winter sport in the Winter Games.”

Bach added that in response to the commission’s findings, the IOC executive board had approved a proposal to allow a double allocation of two successive Winter Games in 2030 and 2034 during next year’s session in Paris.

IOC chiefs had hoped to award the 2030 Winter Olympics during a Mumbai session starting on Sunday, which is being preceded by the ongoing executive board gathering.

But problems regarding potential hosts have delayed the IOC’s plans, with longstanding 2030 favourite Sapporo officially withdrawing after a collapse in public support in Japan following the Tokyo 2020 corruption scandals.

Sweden and France are potential 2030 contenders but Salt Lake City in the United States would rather stage the 2034 Winter Olympics so as to put more distance between that event and the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles.

“We need to address this dramatic impact of climate change,” said Bach. “This is a very complex issue and to address this in a proper way we need some more time.

“This is one of the reasons why the future host commission is proposing to get the opportunity for a double allocation of two successive Olympic Winter Games 2030 and 2034.”

Bach added the double-award proposal would be the subject of further discussions at an IOC session meeting, also in Mumbai, from October 15-17.

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