The Winter Olympics and Special Olympics will take place in Milan – Cortina D’Ampezzo in 2026. The event has been saluted as a great opportunity, at a time when Italy’s prestige and financial stability need to be reasserted after a prolonged crisis. The Winter Olympics are set to boost the local economy and to reaffirm Italy’s international role as a reliable partner for major events and enterprises. Giovanni Malagò, the president of the Olympic Committee, has commented on the event’s importance, at a time when Italy needs to consolidate its position during a particularly chaotic time in world politics. The unifying power of sport and the values that form the backbone of the Olympics’ philosophy will be center stage in this historic event. There is, however, a more practical aspect that we feel should be considered at this point: a whole new world of business and branding opportunities is opening up and companies should be quick to take action.
Opportunities for local businesses
According to a recent study, over 50% of the SMBs in Lombardy (i.e. the territory that will host the games) consider the Winter Olympics as a potential opportunity for business growth and would be interested in engaging in new projects during and around the event. Most of the “action”, business-wise, will likely take place in the provinces of Milan and Sondrio, where the actual games will be hosted and where, therefore, the traffic of tourists, journalists, professionals, and athletes will be concentrated. Local business owners are therefore understandably excited.
Local business and international success
There are several opportunities for local enterprises to be involved in the upcoming Winter Olympics. This is due partly to the potential of the event itself and partly to the structural work that most of the local facilities will need before they can welcome the Games. Some sports facilities will need to be extended and updated and new ones are set to be built, which will create new business, draw a crowd of workers and media professionals. Naturally, contractors and construction enterprises will be most involved at this stage, but their very presence will result in a boost for the hospitality industry, from short-term rentals to restaurants and local shops. The tidal wave of tourism-related business, of course, will swell as larger and larger international crowds are drawn to the region in the successive phases of the project, leading up to the Olympics themselves.
Winter Olympics: is it possible to generate lasting results?
Many of the cities and regions that have hosted the Olympic Games in the past have lamented a disproportion between the investment that went into preparing for the event and providing adequate facilities and its overall positive impact on the local economy. Most point out that the kind of investment the Olympics require could only provide an adequate return over a number of years, whereas most Olympic stadiums and facilities tend to be underused after the games. The true challenge of the 2026 Winter Olympics will be the creation of a virtuous cycle of entrepreneurial opportunity and sustainable growth, that can actively impact the local economy for years to come. This is the right moment for local businesses to plan new campaigns, to find new ways of standing out from the competition, to reach out to their target audience and to expand such audience to incorporate locals as well as tourists. Sponsorships, of course, are still very much on the table, which could grant unprecedented visibility to local brands. Malagò himself mentioned this opportunity early on, referring to the local sports brands, particularly those who produce winter sports equipment – of which there are several in the alpine regions. For many local enterprises, this will be the chance of a lifetime.