Schladming hosted the Alpine World Championships in 2013 ©Getty Images

Graz and Schladming could mount a surprise attempt to resurrect an Austrian bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games following a failed referendum in Innsbruck last year.

The Mayors of the two ski resorts - Siegfried Nagl for Graz and Jürgen Winter for Schladming - have announced a plan to launch a joint bid.

If successful, it would mark the third Austrian Winter Olympics following editions in Innsbruck in 1964 and 1976.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach has already claimed that they would be "happy to talk" to the two cities but claimed he is only aware of their interest through media reports.

It still seems unlikely, though, that an Austrian public who were opposed to an Innsbruck bid would ultimately think differently here.

Graz and Schladming also co-hosted the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games.

"The positive experience of the Special Olympics, with more than 2,700 athletes from more than 100 nations, has moved us to use this tailwind to seize this century-old opportunity," Nagl said, according to Voralberg Online.

"Ultimately, there are not more athletes participating in the Olympics than the Special Olympics. 

"The desire to bring back the biggest winter sporting event after 50 years back to Austria, comes from Mayors of some established venues and association representatives."

Schladming would be expected to host Alpine skiing if the bid does go ahead ©Getty Images
Schladming would be expected to host Alpine skiing if the bid does go ahead ©Getty Images

It would be expected that Schladming would host Alpine skiing while ice sport events would take place in Graz.

An International Ski Federation Slalom World Cup leg was held in Schladming yesterday, while the Alpine World Championships also took place there in 2013.

Nordic competitions could take place in nearby Ramsau and Bischofshofen, it has been reported, with freestyle skiing and snowboard held in Kreischberg and biathlon in Hochfilzen.

It is possible that speed skating and sliding could take place over the German border, in Inzell and Königssee respectively.

Calgary in Canada, Sion in Switzerland, Sapporo in Japan, Stockholm in Sweden and, possibly, Salt Lake City, Denver or Reno in the United States, are also considering mounting 2026 bids.

A more "proactive" invitation stage is currently taking place as part of a reformed process before the bidding window officially begins in October.

An IOC delegation chaired by Christophe Dubi, their executive director for the Olympic Games, paid for a visit to Calgary last week and inspected aspects including transportation, infrastructure, existing facilities and organisation.