Milan, Italy: Support for Italy's bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo has grown with 83 percent of Italians now backing the project, according to poll carried out by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
IOC evaluation commission chairman Octavian Morariu revealed the figures Saturday after an inspection of proposed sites in the northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto.
Morariu described the joint bid by Italy's financial capital and Dolomites ski resort Cortina D'Ampezzo as a "very competitive proposition".
"After our five days here, we can say that the overwhelming popular support demonstrated by the latest IOC poll is not a surprise," Morariu told a press conference.
In Milan, 87 percent are in favour of the Olympics, while in the region of Lombardy, of which Milan is the capital, it was 81 percent and Cortina's Veneto region, 80 percent.
Similar polls carried out in Sweden, where Stockholm is the only city in competition with Italy, put the figure at 53 percent.
"Wherever we went we felt welcome," continued Morariu of the visit which began in Venice.
Under the bid figure skating, hockey and short-track speedskating would be held in Milan, with sliding sports and curling in Cortina; and speedskating, biathlon and Nordic sports would take place at Trentino-Alto Adige.
The alpine skiing events would be in Bormio for the men and Cortina for women while the opening ceremony would be at the San Siro football stadium, with the closing ceremony at Verona's Arena, a large Roman amphitheatre.
"We found a great candidature team, that put a lot of passion and enthusiasm into the work," said Morariu. "This is really very, very strong."