IOC report a ‘games-changer’

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A Queenstowner pushing for New Zealand to host the Winter Olympics says the idea’s never been more affordable.

An International Olympic Committee report released early yesterday made sweeping changes in an attempt to make it cheaper and easier to host the games.

That included allowing different cities and countries to collaborate.

NZ Olympic Committee head Kereyn Smith says despite the changes hosting the Olympics in NZ is still too costly.

She reportedly said yesterday NZ’s challenge is not only the expense – which she predicted would be too much – but broadcast times.

In October, Mountain Scene exclusively reported Bruce McGechan’s ambitious plan for NZ to host the 2026 Winter games.

He’s not deterred by Smith’s comments.

McGechan says the IOC report provides NZ the flexibility to host a Winter Olympics – if not in 2026, then in 2030 or 2034.

“In essence it has stripped out $150 million of capital cost NZ would need to pay for a sliding centre [for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events] and ski jumping.

“This could be hosted elsewhere.”

It’s already being reported Korea is being encouraged to ask Nagano, Japan, to host the sliding centre for the 2018 games.

McGechan says the cost of a Winter Games is now very similar to a Commonwealth Games, but with greater TV exposure for the country’s tourism markets.

That includes promoting NZ’s snow sports industry to Aussies.

“These two elements combined mean the economic benefits of the winter Olympics probably outweigh any other large event bar a Rugby World Cup.”

If NZ hosted the event, he says “extensive” private sector involvement is needed, paired with an entrepreneurial approach.

“This includes gondolas and athletes’ villages, not to mention finding solutions for a myriad of issues that would come up.”