by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, June 24 (Xinhua) -- Italian authorities on Monday hailed the decision of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to award the Winter Games 2026 to Milan/Cortina.
During its 134th session held in the Swiss city of Lausanne, the IOC chose the Italian candidacy over the bid of Stockholm/Are submitted by Sweden.
It will be the first Winter Olympics in Italy in 20 years, after the previous one hosted in northwest Turin city in 2006.
"This is a victory for all (the country)," Milan mayor Giuseppe Sala told state-run TV broadcaster RAI News24 shortly after the announcement.
"Our presentation of the candidacy was much varied, putting together pragmatism and Italian allure, and I believe this has played a role in the decision taken by the Committee," the mayor explained.
Sala also confirmed to RAI the Milan/Cortina candidacy won 47 votes among the 82 members of the Committee, and Stockholm/Are received 34 votes, while one member abstained.
Italy's Foreign Minister Enzo Moavero Milanesi expressed "great satisfaction" at the news.
"A most relevant outcome for Italy resulting from an excellent team work, to which the Farnesina (Foreign Ministry) and its whole diplomatic network are proud of having contributed," Moavero Milanesi wrote on Twitter.
Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte also welcomed the announcement. "We are proud of this great result," he wrote on his official Facebook page.
"Italy has won: the country has worked together and unanimously, with the ambition to create and offer the world an unforgettable sport event," the prime minister added.
Deputy Prime Minister Matteo Salvini hailed the IOC's decision also because of its potential impact on the country's economy.
"Long live to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games 2026, which will mean at least 20,000 new jobs, many investments, and some 5 billion euros of value added for Italy," Ansa quoted Salvini as saying.
In a statement announcing the assignment in late afternoon, IOC President Thomas Bach congratulated Italy for the achievement, saying that he expected the Winter Games Milan/Cortina 2026 to feature "iconic venues and beautiful settings, combining the attractions of a modern European metropolis with a classic Alpine environment."
The Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) in early October announced that Italy would officially submit its bid to host the Winter Olympics 2026 with a dual candidacy, involving the northern city of Milan and the mountain town of Cortina d'Ampezzo.
Milan is Italy's major economic hub, while Cortina d'Ampezzo -- also known here as the "Queen" or the "Pearl" of the Dolomites mountains -- is considered one of the most attractive ski resorts across the whole arc of the Italian Alps.
In a text and video message to the IOC to support Milan/Cortina candidacy ahead of Monday's vote, President Sergio Mattarella promised Italy would be "ready to welcome" the Winter Games with its ancient tradition of hospitality, in case of victory.
"In an Alpine theatre of extraordinary beauty... with great enthusiasm, we will make all athletes and audience feel at home, confirming sport as a tool of friendship, peace, and brotherhood," Mattarella said. (1 euro =1.14 U.S. dollars)