Cortina: Cement Olympics – Beppe Grillo’s Blog

by Orietta Vanin – When in June 2019 the 2026 Winter Olympic Games were assigned to the Milan-Cortina duo, it was said that Italy had won over the (to be honest) competition thanks to the innovative features of the event: they would have been “Green Olympics” ( that is, in the name of renewable energy), “sustainable” (based on the circular economy and with the reuse of existing sports facilities), “widespread” (ie not burdening a single city, but distributed in such a way as not to have impacting consequences on the territories) and “low cost” (mainly involving private sponsors, so as not to weigh excessively on the state coffers). All these requirements had been explicitly requested by the IOC (Olympic Agenda 2020 / New IOC rules), on the one hand to satisfy the continuous requests from world public opinion so that sport also plays its part in the fight against climate change, from ‘other in order to facilitate the candidacy of new cities (which in recent editions were in hiding), increasingly frightened by the burdens associated with the organization of major international events.

However, a little at a time and almost on the sly, there has been (especially during the Draghi government) a whole series of laws and decree-laws for the financing and refinancing of the Games (most recently the Aid-bis decree for 400 million euro) which, to date, have brought the economic amount charged to the state to over 2 billion euro, and with the progressive retreat of the contribution of private sponsors (the only sponsor, to date, a chain of supermarkets).

To this has been added a progressive expansion of the new building interventions (contrary to what was stated in the candidacy):

  1. First of all, the project for the construction of the new bobsleigh track in Cortina d’Ampezzo (because it is a new construction, with the demolition and subsequent reconstruction of the historic “Eugenio Monti” track), in place of the refurbishment of the Cesana Pariol track. , used in the Turin 2006 Olympic Games and cost, at the time, 110 million euros;
  2. the roof of the “Ice Ring Oval” speed skating facility in Baselga di Piné (TN) (when the Arena Civica in Milan could be used);
  3. the Olympic village of Fiames (BL) in an area at hydrogeological risk;
  4. the PalaItalia sports hall in the Milanese district of Santa Giulia;
  5. the expansion of two artificial basins in Cortina to produce snow to be shot on the slopes;
  6. the new cableway plant in Socrepes (BL);
  7. the construction of a whole series of roads which, most likely, will be completed well beyond 2026 (such as the Varianti di Cortina, Longarone, Lecco-Bergamo and the Bormio ring road).

And, contrary to what was stated in the candidacy on the subject of sustainability, art. 16 of Legislative Decree 121/2021 extends the simplified procedures provided for by the PNRR (art.44 Legislative Decree 77/2021) also to the Olympic works, reducing to a minimum the controls of the impact on the environment and ecosystems of new buildings, just in a moment where the climate crisis is affecting above all the mountains and with some areas that are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites (such as the Dolomites).

Public debate and transparency are also reduced to a minimum: a clear example is the exclusion of environmental protection associations from the service conferences for the “Strip Out” of the Cortina bobsleigh run.

But it is the same Olympic and sporting memory that risks being betrayed by this “modernist” approach to the Games.

Antelao curve of the Olympic bobsleigh track “Eugenio Monti” (photo Andrea Grigoletto)

In fact, the projects presented include the demolition of one of the emblems of the VII Winter Olympic Games (Cortina 1956), the historic bobsleigh track “Eugenio Monti” which has its origins in 1923, and the radical transformation of the “Italia” ski jump.

Springboard “Italia” in Cortina from 1956 (source dolomiticontemporanee.net)

which will be converted into a carnival “Medal Plaza”, while the historic Olympic Ice Stadium was already “ruined” at the beginning of the 2000s with the construction of the steel roof with an unlikely blue tint.

Cortina’s Olympic Ice Stadium in 1956 (source Docomomo Italia)

From this point of view it should be remembered that these three facilities (bobsleigh track, trampoline and ice stadium) are the only permanent sports structures built for the 1956 Games (the first in Italy); for all the other disciplines, removable and temporary solutions were adopted at the time such as, for example, those for speed skating on Lake Misurina and those for cross-country skiing in the Campo plain, which did not cause any environmental consequences in the end of the event.

The paradox, therefore, is that if Cortina will be remembered one day for a “sustainable” edition of the Winter Olympic Games, it will be for the 1956 edition and certainly not for the 2026 one.


Source: Il Blog di Beppe Grillo by beppegrillo.it.

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