IOC appoints coordination commission for 2026 Winter Olympics


(Photo: VCG)

GENEVA, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Finland's Sari Essayah has been appointed chairperson of the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Coordination Commission for the 2026 Winter Olympics in Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo.

The 52-year-old, a former Olympic race walker who became an IOC member in 2016, will head a 10-strong group which will assess preparations for the Games in Italy.

Other members of the Commission include IOC representatives Tricia Smith of Canada, Puerto Rico's Richard Carrion, Jiri Kejval of the Czech Republic, Daina Gudzineviciute of Lithuania and Lee Kee-heung of South Korea.

They are joined by IOC Athletes' Commission representative Kikkan Randall of the United States, who won a gold medal in cross-country skiing at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

Dutch International Skating Union President Jan Dijkema will represent the International Federations, while Spanish Olympic Committee President Alejandro Blanco has been named the NOCs representative.

Marianna Davis of the U.S. will represent the International Paralympic Committee.

"It is a pleasure and a privilege to be able to work with such a talented group of people," said Essayah, who competed at the Barcelona 1992 and Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games.

"We look forward to employing our experience in helping the Olympic Winter Games Milano Cortina 2026 organizers achieve their goals of sustainable development and a more active society."

Essayah was chosen as Finnish Sportswoman of the Year in 1993 and 1994.

"Milano Cortina's project is completely aligned with Olympic Agenda 2020 and its vision for a cost-effective Games that take advantage of existing facilities and expertise," said IOC President Thomas Bach.

"This Coordination Commission, under the leadership of Sari Essayah, holds the necessary combination of knowledge and skills to partner with local organizers in unlocking the full potential of this project."

"They will work hand-in-hand for an unforgettable experience for athletes and fans, and leave an indelible positive legacy for the hosts."

The first visit by the Coordination Commission to northern Italy is scheduled for the second half of 2020.

The Italian bid beat Swedish capital Stockholm for the right to host the 2026 Games at the IOC Session in Lausanne in June.