Latest polls have suggested declining support for Sion 2026 ©Getty Images

Opposition towards Sion's bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games appears to be gathering pace with less than three weeks to go before a crunch referendum, despite a message of support from the Swiss Federal Council today.

Voters in Valais Canton will go to the polls on June 10 in an election taking place alongside two other nationwide referendums in Switzerland.

Polls released earlier this month suggested it was too close to call with 46 per cent of voters in the region forecast to vote "yes" in comparison with 47 per cent who would vote "no" and seven per cent who are undecided.

A latest poll conducted by Sotomo for RTS Swiss Public Television indicated that 51 per cent would not approve the funding of CHF100 million (£75 million/$100 million/€85 million) to organise the event, and a further seven per cent would probably not approve.

In comparison, 36 per cent of those asked said they would vote "yes" while a further six per cent said they would probably vote in favour.

Sixty per cent of those in opposition blamed high costs while only 32 per cent of women questioned said they would vote "yes".

"We are in the middle of a very thorough campaign and it would obviously be nice to be in the lead, even in random polls," Sion 2026 and Swiss Olympic President Jürg Stahl told insidethegames today.

"This result is very useful as it shows that we have to keep fighting for our project and leave no stone unturned.

"It [the prospects of winning the referendum] is not all dire at all. 

"I also hear a lot of positive comments from people both in the street and on social media who understand that the Games concept of Sion 2026 is full of opportunities for them and free of major risks.

"Together with our athletes, they will continue to spread the word. 

"We never said that it would be easy, but I am convinced that with a strong final stretch, we can win this race on June 10."

A referendum is due to take place in Valais Canton on June 10 ©Getty Images
A referendum is due to take place in Valais Canton on June 10 ©Getty Images

The Swiss Federal Council claimed to be convinced that the "opportunities for sport, business and society in Switzerland outweigh the risks". 

"As a pioneer of a new generation of Olympic Games and home to dozens of international sports federations, Switzerland could play a pioneering role in global perception," they said.

The Bern Government plans to commit CHF787 million (£590 million/$790 million/€675 million) to an implementation budget - plus a reserve of CHF215 million (£162 million/$216 million/€185 million).

An additional CHF85 million (£64 million/$85 million/€74 million) will go towards Federal security while further funds will go towards supplementing canton security and investing in Swiss winter sporting infrastructure.

"Today's decision by the Government is a strong signal and shows that they believe in the power of Sion 2026 way beyond sport," Stahl added to insidethegames.

"We will continue to work on our project by sticking to our very low-risk approach thanks to using as many existing facilities as possible."

This follows a claim by International Olympic Committee (IOC) executive director Christophe Dubi last week that the organisation have reformed after polls also suggested that 63 per cent of citizens in the canton of Valais still do not trust the IOC. 

Many locals still resent the IOC for failed Sion bids for the 2002 edition won by Salt Lake City and then the 2006 contest won by Turin.

Olympic officials hope that the fact Valais voters are going to the polls for other reasons rather than just a bidding ballot may help their cause, but confidence does not appear high that a run of referendum defeats can be ended despite the Government-backing.

Calgary in Canada is also likely to face a referendum late this year or early in 2019, while Stockholm in Sweden and an Italian bid from Milan, Turin and Cortina d'Ampezzo are still not guaranteed political support.

That leaves Erzurum in Turkey, which is currently considered a rank outsider, and Graz in Austria, the country where the referendum in Innsbruck has already failed.

The IOC are due to vote on official candidates at an IOC Session in Buenos Aires in October before a host is chosen in September 2019.