Lausanne - Seven candidates have expressed interest in staging the 2026 Winter Olympics, the International Olympic Committee announced Tuesday, 18 months ahead of the date for naming the Games' host.
Graz in Austria, Calgary in Canada, a joint bid from Milan, Turin and Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy; Sapporo, Japan; Stockholm, Sweden; Sion in Switzerland, and Erzurum, Turkey, have put their names forward for the initial phase that ends in October 2018.
An official candidature phase follows until September 2019.
"I warmly welcome the NOCs' and cities' interest in hosting the Olympic Winter Games," said IOC president Thomas Bach.
"The IOC has turned the page with regard to Olympic candidatures. Our goal is not just to have a record number of candidates, but ultimately it is to select the best city to stage the best Olympic Winter Games for the best athletes of the world."
Candidates willing to host the Olympics, especially the Winter Games, have become fewer in recent times due notably to the rising costs and security concerns.
For the 2018 Olympics, South Korea's Pyeongchang was opposed by only two other candidates while Beijing won the right to host the 2022 Games against competition from just one other city.