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Italy: 2026 Winter Olympic Games Bid ‘Dead’

The Italian government said on Tuesday it will no longer back a bid to stage the 2026 Winter Olympics jointly in Milan, Turin and Cortina after the mayors of the three cities failed to unite behind the project.

“The proposal does not have the support of the government so it dies here,” Sports Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told parliament. “Doubt and suspicion prevailed.”

The government decision will make it almost impossible for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to press ahead with the plan, although local media said it might try to recast the proposal in the coming hours to salvage its bid.

There was no immediate comment from CONI.

Three cities have already pulled out of the 2026 race, with Japan’s Sapporo, Switzerland’s Sion, and Austria’s Graz all previously announcing their decision to withdraw.

Calgary, Stockholm and Turkey’s Erzurum are the only three definitely left in the running, with the International Olympic Committee next month due to name the city or cities which will enter the one-year candidature phase.

Tuesday’s announcement was particularly embarrassing to CONI because it was the third time in six years that an Italian drive to host the Olympics has ended in failure.

Rome withdrew from the race to stage first the 2020 and then the 2024 Summer Games because of financial concerns and political opposition respectively.

CONI announced its 2026 Winter Olympics bid in August, pulling together separate proposals from three cities into a joint effort.

However, the idea ran into immediate trouble thanks to strong political differences between the mayor of Milan, who is from the center-left, and the mayor of Turin, who is from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

With the official bid apparently now dead, the northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto suggested pooling their resources to put forward a new, revised offer and Italian media said CONI was working on the idea.

Giorgetti said such a project would not have government backing.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who is head of the 5-Star Movement, blamed CONI for the impasse.

“The truth is that we have unfortunately paid the price of CONI’s decision. In an attempt to make everyone happy, it did not have the courage to make a clear decision from the start, creating an unsustainable situation in which, as usual, they wasted state money,” he said.

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Italy: 2026 Winter Olympic Games Bid ‘Dead’

The Italian government said on Tuesday it will no longer back a bid to stage the 2026 Winter Olympics jointly in Milan, Turin and Cortina after the mayors of the three cities failed to unite behind the project.

“The proposal does not have the support of the government so it dies here,” Sports Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti told parliament. “Doubt and suspicion prevailed.”

The government decision will make it almost impossible for the Italian Olympic Committee (CONI) to press ahead with the plan, although local media said it might try to recast the proposal in the coming hours to salvage its bid.

There was no immediate comment from CONI.

Three cities have already pulled out of the 2026 race, with Japan’s Sapporo, Switzerland’s Sion, and Austria’s Graz all previously announcing their decision to withdraw.

Calgary, Stockholm and Turkey’s Erzurum are the only three definitely left in the running, with the International Olympic Committee next month due to name the city or cities which will enter the one-year candidature phase.

Tuesday’s announcement was particularly embarrassing to CONI because it was the third time in six years that an Italian drive to host the Olympics has ended in failure.

Rome withdrew from the race to stage first the 2020 and then the 2024 Summer Games because of financial concerns and political opposition respectively.

CONI announced its 2026 Winter Olympics bid in August, pulling together separate proposals from three cities into a joint effort.

However, the idea ran into immediate trouble thanks to strong political differences between the mayor of Milan, who is from the center-left, and the mayor of Turin, who is from the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement.

With the official bid apparently now dead, the northern Italian regions of Lombardy and Veneto suggested pooling their resources to put forward a new, revised offer and Italian media said CONI was working on the idea.

Giorgetti said such a project would not have government backing.

Deputy Prime Minister Luigi Di Maio, who is head of the 5-Star Movement, blamed CONI for the impasse.

“The truth is that we have unfortunately paid the price of CONI’s decision. In an attempt to make everyone happy, it did not have the courage to make a clear decision from the start, creating an unsustainable situation in which, as usual, they wasted state money,” he said.

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EU Enlargement Chief Urges Macedonians to Back Name Deal

Macedonia will take a big step to joining the European Union if the country supports a name change to “North Macedonia,” the official in charge of the bloc’s enlargement negotiations said Tuesday.

Following talks with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the capital Skopje, Johannes Hahn said the September 30 vote is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for Macedonians to improve their daily lives.

A vote to authorize the name change would be an important step towards resolving a long-standing dispute with neighbor Greece, which has raised objections to Macedonia’s EU accession as well as blocking its NATO membership.

Greece has long sought a name change because it says the current one implies claims on its own northern province of Macedonia, and on its ancient heritage.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also voiced hope that the country will be able to start EU accession talks next June.

But he also called on the Macedonian leadership to continue with reforms that the EU has been requesting for years to bring the country in line with `EU criteria.

“More reforms are needed on all topics — rule of law, fighting organized crime and corruption,” Maas said after talks with his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov in Skopje.

Dozens of western officials including German chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have visited Skopje in recent weeks to encourage turnout in the vote — which will only be valid if just over fifty percent of registered voters participate.

Commissioner Hahn said the deal is “appreciated” by the international community, because it would solve a long-running dispute.

“It is a proof for everybody that so-called frozen conflicts can be resolved if [leaders] have a determination to solve the issue,” Hahn said.

“This agreement has an impact [that] goes far beyond the EU.”

If Macedonians vote for the deal in the referendum, the country’s parliament must then amend the constitution to adopt the new name. For the deal to come into effect, Greece’s parliament would then have to ratify it.

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EU Enlargement Chief Urges Macedonians to Back Name Deal

Macedonia will take a big step to joining the European Union if the country supports a name change to “North Macedonia,” the official in charge of the bloc’s enlargement negotiations said Tuesday.

Following talks with Macedonian Prime Minister Zoran Zaev in the capital Skopje, Johannes Hahn said the September 30 vote is a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity for Macedonians to improve their daily lives.

A vote to authorize the name change would be an important step towards resolving a long-standing dispute with neighbor Greece, which has raised objections to Macedonia’s EU accession as well as blocking its NATO membership.

Greece has long sought a name change because it says the current one implies claims on its own northern province of Macedonia, and on its ancient heritage.

German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas also voiced hope that the country will be able to start EU accession talks next June.

But he also called on the Macedonian leadership to continue with reforms that the EU has been requesting for years to bring the country in line with `EU criteria.

“More reforms are needed on all topics — rule of law, fighting organized crime and corruption,” Maas said after talks with his Macedonian counterpart, Nikola Dimitrov in Skopje.

Dozens of western officials including German chancellor Angela Merkel, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, and U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, have visited Skopje in recent weeks to encourage turnout in the vote — which will only be valid if just over fifty percent of registered voters participate.

Commissioner Hahn said the deal is “appreciated” by the international community, because it would solve a long-running dispute.

“It is a proof for everybody that so-called frozen conflicts can be resolved if [leaders] have a determination to solve the issue,” Hahn said.

“This agreement has an impact [that] goes far beyond the EU.”

If Macedonians vote for the deal in the referendum, the country’s parliament must then amend the constitution to adopt the new name. For the deal to come into effect, Greece’s parliament would then have to ratify it.

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Pope Gives Bishops More Decision-Making Options

Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that ordinary Catholics should be consulted about issues facing the Catholic Church and that bishops gathering for periodic meetings can make binding decisions on church teaching.

Francis issued new rules reforming the Synod of Bishops, the consultative body established 50 years ago to give popes an organized way of bringing bishops together to debate problems facing the church.

In the past, synods have been talkfests by churchmen who made nonbinding proposals to the pope to consider in a future document. The new rules say the bishops’ final document becomes part of his official church teaching, or magisterium — but only if the pope approves it.

The pope can help guarantee the outcome another way, by appointing members of the synod secretariat, drafting committee as well as the synod itself, whose members are only required to come to a “moral unanimity” in voting for their final document, but no numerical threshold.

Francis has sought to encourage greater debate at synods, and his 2014 and 2015 editions on family issues became controversial over the issue of whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Many conservatives accused Francis of going beyond even what the synod participants had agreed to in his subsequent document opening the door to letting these Catholics receive the sacraments.

In the reform, Francis also codified a process of consulting the faithful before a synod, as he did informally for the family meeting and the upcoming synod on youth.

Not only were questionnaires sent out asking ordinary faithful to chime in on a host of issues, including sexuality and homosexuality, the Vatican organized a pre-synod conference for young people in Rome so the Vatican could have in-person input before the October 3-28 meeting.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who heads the synod office, said the changes were consistent with Francis’ efforts to make the church more “synodal” and in decentralized unity with bishops around the world. At the same time, the changes reflect the fundamental role of the “people of God” in the church, he said.

However, Vatican officials confirmed that while women can attend synods as nominated experts and take the floor to speak, they can’t vote. And the “people of God” can’t watch the proceedings, which are held behind closed doors.

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Pope Gives Bishops More Decision-Making Options

Pope Francis decreed on Tuesday that ordinary Catholics should be consulted about issues facing the Catholic Church and that bishops gathering for periodic meetings can make binding decisions on church teaching.

Francis issued new rules reforming the Synod of Bishops, the consultative body established 50 years ago to give popes an organized way of bringing bishops together to debate problems facing the church.

In the past, synods have been talkfests by churchmen who made nonbinding proposals to the pope to consider in a future document. The new rules say the bishops’ final document becomes part of his official church teaching, or magisterium — but only if the pope approves it.

The pope can help guarantee the outcome another way, by appointing members of the synod secretariat, drafting committee as well as the synod itself, whose members are only required to come to a “moral unanimity” in voting for their final document, but no numerical threshold.

Francis has sought to encourage greater debate at synods, and his 2014 and 2015 editions on family issues became controversial over the issue of whether divorced and civilly remarried Catholics can receive Communion.

Many conservatives accused Francis of going beyond even what the synod participants had agreed to in his subsequent document opening the door to letting these Catholics receive the sacraments.

In the reform, Francis also codified a process of consulting the faithful before a synod, as he did informally for the family meeting and the upcoming synod on youth.

Not only were questionnaires sent out asking ordinary faithful to chime in on a host of issues, including sexuality and homosexuality, the Vatican organized a pre-synod conference for young people in Rome so the Vatican could have in-person input before the October 3-28 meeting.

Cardinal Lorenzo Baldisseri, who heads the synod office, said the changes were consistent with Francis’ efforts to make the church more “synodal” and in decentralized unity with bishops around the world. At the same time, the changes reflect the fundamental role of the “people of God” in the church, he said.

However, Vatican officials confirmed that while women can attend synods as nominated experts and take the floor to speak, they can’t vote. And the “people of God” can’t watch the proceedings, which are held behind closed doors.

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Bosnia Adopts EU-required Changes to Criminal Code After Delay

The Bosnian parliament on Monday approved long-delayed changes to a criminal code aimed at bolstering the rule of law and the fight against crime and corruption, which is expected to speed up the country’s progress towards European Union membership.

Bosnia’s top court had given lawmakers a June deadline to bring the country’s criminal procedure code into line with international standards, a key EU requirement for Western Balkan nations aspiring to join the bloc.

But politicians from Bosnia’s three rival ethnic parties could not agree on changes drafted by the Justice Ministry which included the use of undercover police personnel, communications interception, surveillance and the use of informants.

The EU also considered the amendments proposed by the ministry to be too weak, and warned that Bosnian prosecutors would be deprived of one of the major tools to effectively fight against the most serious crime.

A compromise solution agreed under international pressure allows the duration of investigative processes to be cut to a maximum of one year from up to 10 years previously, and reduces the scope for granting immunity to alleged offenders and witnesses.

A majority of lawmakers in Bosnia’s multi-layered parliamentary system have enjoyed immunity from prosecution and analysts in the country, which is mired in corruption, said politicians had resisted major changes to the law in order to keep this privilege.

Disputes among Bosnia’s ethnic leaders have nearly halted the Balkan country’s progress towards the EU and NATO. Bosnia formally applied for EU membership in 2016 but the process of joining is expected to take at least a decade.

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Bosnia Adopts EU-required Changes to Criminal Code After Delay

The Bosnian parliament on Monday approved long-delayed changes to a criminal code aimed at bolstering the rule of law and the fight against crime and corruption, which is expected to speed up the country’s progress towards European Union membership.

Bosnia’s top court had given lawmakers a June deadline to bring the country’s criminal procedure code into line with international standards, a key EU requirement for Western Balkan nations aspiring to join the bloc.

But politicians from Bosnia’s three rival ethnic parties could not agree on changes drafted by the Justice Ministry which included the use of undercover police personnel, communications interception, surveillance and the use of informants.

The EU also considered the amendments proposed by the ministry to be too weak, and warned that Bosnian prosecutors would be deprived of one of the major tools to effectively fight against the most serious crime.

A compromise solution agreed under international pressure allows the duration of investigative processes to be cut to a maximum of one year from up to 10 years previously, and reduces the scope for granting immunity to alleged offenders and witnesses.

A majority of lawmakers in Bosnia’s multi-layered parliamentary system have enjoyed immunity from prosecution and analysts in the country, which is mired in corruption, said politicians had resisted major changes to the law in order to keep this privilege.

Disputes among Bosnia’s ethnic leaders have nearly halted the Balkan country’s progress towards the EU and NATO. Bosnia formally applied for EU membership in 2016 but the process of joining is expected to take at least a decade.

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