There’s been much conversation about the potential benefits and costs of holding an Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sweden in 2026. With the International Olympic Committee’s new ‘Olympic Agenda 2020’ initiative promoting a more sustainable approach to the Games, the risks are now much less than in previous years.
Politicians should therefore do their utmost to support Stockholm in hosting the 2026 Winter Games. It will not only promote the Swedish tourism industry and business as a whole, but also contribute to a more cohesive society. An Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Sweden in 2026 is a unique opportunity for our nation.
To host one of the world’s largest events will promote a positive impression of Sweden and create long-lasting memories for years to come. Amongst many other gains, hosting the Games would benefit our youth, a demographic that faces some of the biggest societal challenges in our country right now. In Stockholm County alone, some 90,000 young people under the age of 26 live in vulnerable areas.
There are no miracle cures for the problems of segregation and exclusion – but we do know that sport plays an important role as a platform for successful integration. The Swedish business community is both willing and able to play a greater role in this regard.
Sweden can look back on several years of growth and increased employment, and a large contributing factor in this success has been the strong development of the Stockholm region. But there are signs that the Swedish economy may be moving into a weaker period. The situation now demands conscious and smart investments towards the future; and there is no greater investment in our future than in our youth.
Some Swedes are sceptical about hosting a Winter Games in our country. There have been suggestions that it might cost too much, and that the expenses could be borne by taxpayers – both citizens, and companies.
But with the new funding structure around the Games, and the economical and sustainable agenda at the core of the Stockholm 2026 proposal, these risks are very low.
The Stockholm 2026 proposal sets out that approximately SEK 9 billion out of the SEK 13 billion in estimated operating costs is to be paid by the International Olympic Committee. Remaining funding comes from commercial income, such as sponsorship, tickets and merchandising. This means that the Games themselves are actually “self-funding”, making hosting the Games in 2026 a much different proposition than in previous years.
In order to increase Sweden’s long-term competitiveness, the new political leadership in Stockholm, as well as the upcoming government, must exploit the development potential that the 2026 Winter Games offers. Organising the Games around the country in regions such as Stockholm, Åre and Falun, brings many advantages:
Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games would leave a long-lasting positive legacy on youth sport in Sweden. Today, many sports teams struggle to find adequate time and facilities for training. This means that children and teens are forced to train late in the evening often in substandard ice halls. The planned ski centre and ice rink in Botkyrka would provide a world-class facility and be an important investment for our youth.
We believe that we can make the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026 the most sustainable Games ever. The International Olympic Committee has launched a sustainable initiative called ‘Olympic Agenda 2020’, which outlines that the Games should be sustainable and ethical in all respects. This approach means using existing venues and facilities and being economical with any new construction arrangements. This gives us an opportunity to create a new Games model, and by implementing the event within the framework of Sweden’s largely existing infrastructure, our sustainability profile can be further strengthened.
Hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is an opportunity for Sweden to enhance our profile and position ourselves in an even stronger way on the world stage. We face a challenge, and that is to develop our brand and national identity, globally. Studies indicate that the image and perception of Sweden internationally is somewhat dated, and that the knowledge of our country is generally low among younger people around the world. The 2026 Winter Games offer an opportunity to present a modern image of a new, vibrant, and innovative Sweden.
The 2026 Winter Games would provide an important boost to an already strong tourism industry. Tourism revenue topped SEK 300 billion in Sweden last year, and around 175,000 people are employed in the tourism industry. Studies of former Host Cities such as Vancouver, London and Barcelona emphasise the benefits of hosting the Games, which drives, amongst other things, the number of international visitors.
In order to stand strong against global competition in the future, we need to promote internationalisation. Stockholm 2026 would create a positive impact around the world and new opportunities to do business on a global scale. Research indicates that there are numerous advantages to organising the Olympic Games, even with the sustainable and cost-conscious approach proposed by Sweden’s bid. Through increased awareness, a strong brand and more visitors, there is a real opportunity to create an ‘Olympic export effect’, which means more growth and prosperity for the entire nation.
Private, public and non-profit sectors need to work together to successfully manage the challenges faced by Sweden, especially around segregation. Therefore, we believe that it’s necessary to present a broad agenda, where sport plays a key role.
Politicians should do their utmost to help Sweden and Stockholm win the battle to host the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in 2026. This opportunity has the potential to promote both the Swedish tourism industry and business community, and also contribute to a more cohesive society.
Ahmed Abdirahman, founder of Järvaveckan and integration expert Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Urban Edenström, Chairman of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Natalia Brzezinski, CEO of Brilliant Minds
Daniel Ek, founder of Spotify
Andreas Hatzigeorgiou, President of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Johan Oljeqvist, CEO of Fryshuset and Board Member of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce
Cristina Stenbeck, Company Leader
Petter Stordalen, owner of the Strawberry Group
Bengt Thorsson, CEO of Permobil group
Jacob Wallenberg, Company Leader
Marcus Wallenberg, Company Leader