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  • The International Olympic Committee’s decision to award Milan-Cortina the 2026 Olympics highlights the lack of interest in hosting the Games. 
  • Election interference through social media is happening ahead of Canada’s fall federal election, according to experts on fake news.
  • Missed The National last night? Watch it here.

Calgary’s Olympics go to Italy

There was some tense quiz show music and a pregnant pause before the opening of the envelope, but the International Olympic Committee’s decision to award the 2026 Winter Games to Milan-Cortina, Italy, was less a choice than a necessity.

Six of the eight cities that initially expressed interest in hosting the Winter Olympics either failed to make it out of the starting gate or dropped out early in the race. 

The final vote came down to two imperfect candidates — a big, polluted city and a tiny resort town in the Italian Alps, separated by 400 kilometres; and the Swedish alternative of Stockholm-Are, another city/mountain hybrid that lies even fartherapart and would have seen the sliding events held across the Baltic Sea in Latvia.

And the Swedes didn’t really seem to be that into it. Stockholm‘s city government had refused to sign any binding hosting agreement, a stance that the IOC worried might put the construction and completion of the athlete’s village “at risk.” 

Meanwhile, polling conducted by the Olympic overlords showed just 55 per cent support for the Games in Sweden, versus 83 per cent support in Italy.

And even though Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven showed up in Lausanne, Switzerland, this morning to assure IOC voters that his government stood “fully behind” the bid, and that it was “in [the country’s] DNA to deliver,” he was gone by the time the choice was announcedjetting off to Paris to watch Sweden play Canada at the FIFA Women’s World Cup this afternoon.

International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach announces Milano and Cortina as the host cities for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, on June 24. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

The bigger question is what the Olympic movement will do from here on in. 

This is the second straight Winter bid process that came down to two unpalatable options, with the noted, non-winter city of Beijing narrowly beating out Almaty, Kazakhstan.for the 2022 Games.

The IOC has been trying to streamline the bid process and cap the costs that scare so many potential Summer and Winter hosts away, giving extra credit for repurposed or reused venues and showing more openness to spreading events across several locales. 

And later this week, they will adopt a new wrinkle, requiring future bidders to hold a citizen referendum on the Games before they can officially apply. 

The idea is that this will put an end to embarrassing mid-process pullouts, like Calgary’s decision to drop its 2026 bid last November, after voters gave the thumbs down to the idea of hosting another Olympics.

But given that the last city to actually pass an Olympic referendum was Vancouver in 2003 — a win that has been followed by nine straight losses at the ballot box — it’s hard to see how the change will actually lead to more, or better, bids. 

However, the Olympic movement has bigger issues, like the way its past continually overshadows its present.

This morning, AFP reported that Lamine Diack, the former head of world track and field body the International Association of Athletics Federations, and his son Papa Massata Diack will stand trial in France for corruption and money laundering.

The 86-year-old Senegalese ex-track boss and his son, a former “marketing consultant” for the IAAF, had been under investigation for more than three years — caught up in both the sport’s doping scandal and allegations of Olympic bid rigging.

Both have proclaimed their innocence, but have found it difficult to satisfactorily explain certain interactions, like a $2.8 US million paymentthat the Tokyo bid team made to a company associated with Papa Massata Diack in the hours before the Games vote, or emails about the need to “lock” in African delegates and hold off Madrid’s 2020 bid

On a positive note, the IOC does have a swanky new home. The $196.5 million lakesideLausanne headquarterswas officially opened yesterday

Among its many features: a roof shaped like a dove, “a universal symbol of peace,” explained IOC head Thomas Bach, and an elaborate central staircase that links together the five Olympic rings.

Here’s a video of the new headquarters:

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‘Fake news’ vs. real elections

Election interference is real and it’s happening in Canada in the run-up to the federal election, The National co-host Adrienne Arsenault writes.

Can we handle the truth?

It’s not really clear we can handle the truth. At least, we don’t seem to like to be corrected. 

This is a problem. As we head into an election season, there is a lot of talk here at CBC News and at The National in particular about what to do with the falsehoods. How should we handle the mis- and disinformation spread by foreign and domestic actors trying to manipulate our minds and votes?

Craig Silverman, the Buzzfeed journalist credited with coining the phrase ‘fake news,’ tells The National’s Adrienne Arsenault that people are already trying to influence Canadian voters with false information ahead of the fall federal election. (Carmen Merrifield/CBC)

Craig Silverman, a Buzzfeed journalist who is often credited with coining the “fake news” label to describe the junk that was spreading in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. presidential election, urges serious caution.

There is plenty of evidence that even when you point out that a particular social media post with its predictably infuriating detail is wrong, the untrue information seems to linger in people’s minds.

Then, people start to tune out the corrections.

Silverman calls it “the Cliff Clavin phenomenon.” Remember Cliff? He was the smart aleck postal worker in the TV series Cheers. He seemed to be a know-it-all and there were plenty of groans when poor old Cliff started talking.

“Nobody likes to be told that the thing you shared, you believed, is fake. It’s embarrassing and it also may go against some deeply held beliefs that that piece of information aligned with,” Silverman suggests. 

“And so we absolutely see people giving us blowback when we say, ‘Listen, that’s not actually true.’ They don’t really want to hear it.”

So, don’t expect us to wag a finger at every single falsehood being spread. But, we’re not ignoring them, either. 

Various CBC News teams will be tracking and at times exposing what is gaining traction online and why. 

We’re taking a look at some of the falsehoods and how they spread tonight on the show.

Adrienne Arsenault and the crew from The National travel to Buffalo, N.Y., in search of the offices of the Buffalo Chronicle news site. 0:38

We are especially curious about stories appearing in a website called The Buffalo Chronicle. 

A lot on that site is true, but there are serious flaws and falsehoods in many of the stories about Canada. There are supposed scoops that contain no bylines or sources. 

That these often inflammatory and seemingly groundless stories are being shared widely got us wondering who was doing this and why? Were they being paid to sow discord, or plant ideas? For whom were they working?

We made contact with the publisher and got close to an interview to ask him what he was up to. But then came one of the oddest emails I have ever encountered. 

It was a supposed contract; his terms for doing an interview. It included a demand that the interview be live and unedited, with lighting 20 per cent softer “than is typical.” 

It included a prohibition on using a series of words in connection with the story: phony, sham, fraudulent, fictitious, forged, fabricated, et cetera. You get the idea. And, there was a nifty threat of a $250,000 fee (or was it fine?) if any of the terms were breached.

We said no thank you. This is not a game. This is Canada’s democracy being tinkered with, for whatever reason. 

So, we may not know what he is up to, but we promise to work hard to get to the bottom of those who would try to manipulate your vote — and provide all the tools to stop them from succeeding.

– Adrienne Arsenault

  • WATCH: Coverage of election interference and fake news tonight on The National on CBC Television and streamed online.

Quote of the moment

“I felt extremely sick. I had a high fever. I hadn’t eaten in over a week. And I just knew something was wrong … The doctor came back and told me everything looked perfect.”

Samantha Rideout, a 30-year-old from St. John’s, N.L., explains how a misdiagnosed fracture in her foot became infected and ultimately led to her having her right leg amputated below the knee

What The National is reading

  • Ethiopia says coup attempt thwarted, military chief shot dead (CBC)
  • Iran warns U.S. it could down more drones (Washington Post)
  • Islamic State captives ‘must be tried or freed,’ says UN rights chief (BBC)
  • Russia warns of repeat of 1962 Cuban missile crisis (Reuters)
  • Famed snowboarding daredevil randomly killed on L.A. street (LA Times)
  • Michael Jackson’s tarnished — and profitable — legacy (CBC)
  • The new feminist armpit hair revolution (Guardian)
  • A new hope: Seal learns to sing Star Wars theme (NPR)

Today in history

June 24, 1985: Canada goes cellular

It’s a revolution in technology, but this Venture report worries that “selling the cellular phone will be a hard battle.” After all, who wants to wander around town all day with a brick-sized handset that won’t fit into any pocket — let alone spend up to $6,000 for it — when there are plenty of pay phones? Bell and Cantel, the country’s first service providers have pegged cell phones as a niche product; just for busy executives, real estate agents and construction site supers. If only.

With phone costing thousands and startup costs in the millions, will cellular service fly? 2:17

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