Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino has sent a letter to CONI showing her support ©Getty Images

A three-way battle between Turin, Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo is emerging in an Italian domestic race to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympic Games but overall support remains limited so far.

Turin Mayor Chiara Appendino has already sent a letter to the Italian National Olympic Committee (CONI) expressing her support and Veneto Governor Luca Zaia has said that he expects to follow suit soon.

CONI are likely to inform the International Olympic Committee (IOC) of their intention to bid by the deadline of next Saturday (March 31) but continue to insist they will not commit to a particular city until they have spoken with the Italian Government, which remains in a state of flux following the election earlier this month.

CONI, led by its President Giovanni Malagò, are making it increasingly clear behind the scenes, though, they currently support a Milan-led bid. 

It initially seemed unlikely that any Italian bid would be launched after failed Rome attempts for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics.

Hope was restored through the unlikeliest of sources when Beppe Grillo, founder of the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement which polled highest in this month's Italian General Election, switched from his fierce opposition for Rome 2024 to backing a potential Turin event.

Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games ©Getty Images
Turin hosted the 2006 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games ©Getty Images

Appendino is another a 5-Star Movement figure currently in favour of a bid, but others in her party remain yet to be convinced.

Public opposition has emerged already in Turin, though, with ilgiornale reporting that Deputy Mayor Guido Montanari was embroiled last week in an exchange with protesters outside the Palazzo Civico waving posters drawing attention the debt incurred by other cities that have hosted the Olympic Games and that other European cities, such as Davos, Innsbruck and St Moritz, have opposed bids. 

Montanari reportedly promised that "not a euro" of their money will be spent.

Zaia, meanwhile, is speaking increasingly confidently about a Dolomites attempt based around Cortina d'Ampezzo, venue for the 1956 Winter Olympics.

He is still yet to receiving the backing of the nearby provinces of Trento and Bolzano, however, with respective leaders Ugo Rossi and Arno Kompatscher both currently against any effort at bidding. 

Milan, at this stage, are following the CONI line of not wanting to publicly commit too much. 

"I think Milan has the right cards but will not do anything without a Government and its support," the city's Mayor Giuseppe Sala told Affaritaliani.

"The Government is not there and so I told Malagò that we can also be interested but at the moment there is nothing else. 

"It is not true that there are studies in progress, there is no dossier, we are absolutely firm, what I appreciate is the fact that the CONI and also from the IOC, from what they tell me, would recognise the value of a Milanese application."

Veneto President Luca Zaia is attempting to rally support behind a Dolomites bid ©Getty Images
Veneto President Luca Zaia is attempting to rally support behind a Dolomites bid ©Getty Images

CONI are thought to be open to a Milan-led attempt with some events taking place in Turin, although officials from the latter are currently seemingly only interested in leading their own attempt.

Milan is currently scheduled to host the 2019 IOC Session at which a host city will be named but the location must be moved if an Italian bid does go ahead.

Siom in Switzerland, Sapporo in Japan, Calgary in Canada, Stockholm in Sweden and Graz and Schladming in Austria are other interested cities. 

Those who submit have the next six months to provide more details of their bids before IOC Session in Buenos Aires in October is due to propose official candidates.

It is likely, then, that CONI would have to confirm which city will lead the Italian attempt as soon as possible after the current process to form a Government is completed.

5-Star Movement today allied with conservative parties yesterday to elect the speakers of both Houses of Parliament, but there was no sign they might extend this pact and form a Government.