Italian National Olympic Committee Giovanni Malagò is confident the dispute over the future of San Siro will not affect Milan Cortina 2026 ©Getty Images

Italian National Olympic Committee President Giovanni Malagò claimed here today that a debate over the future of San Siro will have only a positive effect on the joint bid from Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

The iconic 93-year-old stadium, one of the most famous football grounds in the world, is due to host the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympics in 2026 if Milan Cortina wins. 

But it is at the centre of a dispute between joint tenants AC and Inter Milan and its owners, the City of Milan.

Milan Mayor Giuseppe Sala wants to renovate the stadium but the two Serie A football clubs want to move to a specially-built, state-of-the-art arena nearby.

Malagò, though, is not concerned by the debate because he believes whatever the solution, it will leave Milan with a gleaming new stadium to host the Opening Ceremony of the 2026 Games.

Under plans presented by AC and Inter, a new stadium would be completed in 2023 at a cost of €600 million (£510 million/$675 million). 

"I said at the beginning of this adventure in Venice that it is not a problem because everything is fine whatever the outcome is, whether the clubs remain at San Siro, a new San Siro is made or the existing one is renovated," he said as the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Evaluation Commission toured the stadium on their first day in Milan. 

"All three situations are perfect for the IOC. 

"Believe me when I say this is not a problem – it’s a problem that concerns Milan, Inter and Milan City Council.

"Common sense is needed but any option is fine."

There was plenty of star power on show to try to impress the IOC Evaluation Commission.

They were met by Franco Baresi, AC Milan and Italy's former captain, and Francesco Toldo, Inter's former goalkeeper. 

More of an issue could be how to make sure the athletes are able to attend the Opening Ceremony.

Milan is one of three proposed sites for Athlete Villages during Milan Cortina 2026. 

But Cortina, which will host Alpine skiing, curling and sliding sports, is located 411 kilometres away – a four-hour, 30-minute drive.

The other Village, in Livigno, is a three-and-a-half hour drive, or more than 230km from Milan.

Athletes are unlikely want to attend if they risk compromising their performances by having to travel such long distances. 

"I think that actually this is not a problem," Malagò said.  

"It is our mission to put all the athletes in the best solution with all the instruments of the possibility of transportation to be here for the Opening Ceremony."

The IOC Evaluation Commission visited San Siro, the proposed site for the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games if Milan Cortina 2026 wins its bid ©Getty Images
The IOC Evaluation Commission visited San Siro, the proposed site for the Opening Ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games if Milan Cortina 2026 wins its bid ©Getty Images

The 80,000-capacity stadium, which hosted the final of the European Cup four times, most recently in 2016, would be a fitting venue for an Olympic Opening Ceremony. 

"This could be a fantastic experience for the athletes first, because it is an iconic venue," IOC Evaluation Commission chair Octavian Morariu said.

"This is a subject on the table with the Bidding Committee and we know they are working hard on it.

"We know transportation is important for the athletes and we are looking forward to discussing more with our Italian colleagues with the Bidding Committee in our meeting tomorrow."

The IOC Evaluation Commission is due to hold a session with Milan Cortina 2026 tomorrow which will explore in greater detail its bid.

It is expected to form a large part of the IOC Evaluation Commission report due to be published by the end of next month.

The report will also offer an assessment of Stockholm Åre 2026, the Italian bid's only rival, which the IOC visited last month. 

A host city is due to be chosen by the IOC at its Session in Lausanne on June 24.