Austria's top Olympians have thrown their support behind Innsbruck 2026 ©ÖOC

Austrian Olympic Committee (ÖOC) general secretary Peter Mennel has made a last minute plea for voters in Innsbruck and Tirol to back a bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

A referendum is due to be held tomorrow, alongside the national elections, with the bid's future at stake.

The Austrian Government gave their backing to the campaign in June but it needs the support of voters in 279 municipalities in Tirol for it to go ahead to the next stage.

"We want to start with Innsbruck/Tirol a trend change in Olympic Winter games - with a moderate, regional and sustainable concept," said Mennel.

"We want Tiroleans to say 'YES' to the Olympics."

Several of Austria's best known Olympians have also backed the campaign. 

"We should think about the next generations, give them the best conditions, and the Winter Games in front of our own country would help immensely," Benjamin Raich, Olympic gold medallist in the giant slalom and slalom at Turin 2006, said. 

"I am firmly convinced that the people and above all our children will benefit from Tirol. 

"Sport has accompanied me since my earliest childhood and Olympic Games have shaped me on this path. 

"My own children would be about ten years old in 2026. 

"At this young age, children have to develop enthusiasm for sports in order to achieve a healthy lifestyle."

Innsbruck has previously staged the Olympic Games on two occasions, in 1964 and 1976.

It stepped in to host the latter after original host city Denver withdrew following a referendum failure.

Innsbruck also staged the inaugural Winter Youth Olympic Games in 2012.

Politicians from around Tirol have campaigned on behalf of Innsbruck 2026 ©ÖOC
Politicians from around Tirol have campaigned on behalf of Innsbruck 2026 ©ÖOC

Günther Platter, Governor of Tirol, is optimistic that the voters will give Innsbruck 2026 its support after a campaign which has focused largely on the potential economic impact to the region and this bid will not suffer the fate of other cities in recent years who have had to drop them because of lack of local support. 

"The mood in many areas of our society shows that people recognise the potential of this potential application according to clearly defined and regionally determined rules," he said.

"This means that funds are flowing into the country, which are not available without Olympic Games. 

"The result is employment, value added and tax revenue and additional affordable housing. 

"The most important, however, are the euphoria which are connected with it, as well as how it will help inspire the youth in Austria.

"Therefore it is of central importance that Tirol's citizens inform themselves about the Innsbruck/Tirol offer, form an opinion and participate in the vote and use their voice."

It is claimed that no permanent new buildings would be required with events spread around the whole of Tirol state.

This would include the Opening and Closing Ceremonies at Tivoli Stadium, skating and ice hockey finals at the Olympic Stadium and sliding sports at Innsbruck's ice track.

St. Anton am Arlberg would host Alpine events with Hochfilzen and Seefeld staging biathlon and Nordic sports respectively.

An implementation budget of €1.175 billion (£1 billion/$1.3 billion) has been predicted while the Olympic Village would make use of existing urban developments.

It is claimed a bid would be "ecologically responsible, socially responsible, economically viable".

This year's IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen were a big success ©YouTube
This year's IBU World Championships in Hochfilzen were a big success ©YouTube

Konrad Walk, the Mayor of Hochfilzen, believes this year's International Biathlon Union (IBU) World Championships are an illustration of how successful a Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games could be. 

"The IBU Biathlon World Championships 2017 in Hochfilzen have proved what can be achieved as a small region," he said. 

"Projects of this kind inspire people, work as a region beyond community boundaries and help to work together on a goal.

"With the Olympics and Paralympic Games in Tirol you would be able to pull together as a country together and bring Tirol to the front.

"I am convinced that Tirol is an 'Olympic-fit' and it would be negligent to not use such a chance."