Olympics-Milano-Cortina 2026 Games venues face tight timelines-IOC

VENICE, Italy (Reuters) - The International Olympic Committee on Friday warned the organisers of the 2026 Milano-Cortina winter Games that some of their projects, including a controversial sliding centre, are facing "challenging timelines" two years before the event.

The IOC's coordination commission, headed by IOC member Kristin Kloster, completed a visit this week and urged the organisers to speed up preparations.

The venue with the tightest deadline looks to be the new sliding track in Cortina for the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge events.

Earlier this month the Italian government signed a deal with a construction firm to build a new sliding track in Cortina instead of using an existing one in a neighbouring country.

The IOC has repeatedly voiced concerns over the planned new track and urged the Games organisers to use existing sliding centres in nearby countries to keep costs down and cut preparation times.

"All these projects are facing challenging timelines and cannot be delayed," Kloster told a press conference after referring to some venues, including the hockey arena and the sliding centre.

"Keep to timelines. Some projects simply have no buffer," she said. "Now is the time to seize upon that progress to redouble our efforts."

"We are ready, willing and able to provide support," Kloster said, adding that the IOC would increase its monitoring of progress while also having a Plan B in place for the sliding centre.

The IOC is eager to keep the Games' costs low and avoid construction of venues that will get little or no use after the Olympics. Neighbouring France, Switzerland and Austria have sliding centres, as does Germany.

"We did not recommend building new venues, however history has shown that authorities in Italy want to build this (sliding)venue. We respect their decision," Kloster said.

"For us given where we are, safety and security of athletes is paramount. From now to March 2025 it is very short time to deliver such a venue."

The sliding venue needs to be ready by next year to allow for extensive testing and competition use before the Games in 2026.

(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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