Ski mountaineering added to the Milano Cortina 2026 sports programme

The IOC Session today unanimously approved the inclusion of ski mountaineering, governed by the International Ski Mountaineering Federation (ISMF), as an additional sport for the programme of this specific edition of the Olympic Winter Games.

Women's Individual in Ski Mountaineering during Lausanne 2020 Winter Youth Olympics Games ©Getty Images 2020

The IOC Executive Board (EB), in its meeting in June, decided to forward to the IOC Session the proposal of the Organising Committee for the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026.

The inclusion of ski mountaineering on the programme of Milano Cortina 2026 will consist of:

  • Five new medal events: two men’s events (sprint/individual), two women’s events (sprint/individual) and one mixed-gender relay event
  • An athlete quota of 48 (24 men/24 women) falling within the overall quota framework of 2,900.

These five proposed events will follow the principles set for all other events on the programme, including the implementation of a full venue-sharing model with no additional or standalone Games venue for ski mountaineering.

This framework reiterates key considerations around athlete quotas and the venue master plan in view of reducing the cost and complexity of hosting the Olympic Games in a post-pandemic context.

In its decision in June, the IOC EB highlighted the following key features of ski mountaineering that supported its potential inclusion on the Milano Cortina 2026 programme:

  • The same five ski mountaineering events contributed to the success of the Winter Youth Olympic Games Lausanne 2020;
  • Ski mountaineering is a particularly popular sport in Italy, with deep historical and sporting roots across the Alpine regions. Italy is also one of the world’s leading nations in the sport, with several international successes in major competitions over the past 10 years;
  • Ski mountaineering is a fast-growing winter sport among amateur/weekend practitioners. Europe is the continent where ski mountaineering has seen the greatest development, but over recent years more and more participants, at both professional and amateur level, have been identified all over the world.

The full event programme and athlete quotas will be determined at the IOC EB meeting in June 2022.

Background

Olympic Agenda 2020 introduced new flexibility to the Olympic programme, moving from a sport-based to an event-based programme, which is reflected in Rule 45 of the Olympic Charter. This shift also gave the relevant Organising Committees for the Olympic Games (OCOGs) the opportunity to make a proposal for the inclusion of one or more additional events in sports governed by an IOC-recognised International Federation (IF) for their specific edition of the Games. IOC recognition confirms that the given IF is fully compliant with the Olympic Charter and the World Anti-Doping Code, which is a necessary step in view of a sport’s potential inclusion on the Olympic programme.

It should be noted that it is not mandatory for an OCOG to include an additional sport in its programme.

This process represents an opportunity for the OCOG to enhance and strengthen its overall Games concept by proposing one or more sports that reflect its vision and allow for further engagement with local communities through spectacular sports that are culturally relevant for the host country and beyond.

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