BERNE (Reuters) - Switzerland is looking to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics and has begun the process that officials hope will bring the Games back to the Alpine nation for the first time since 1948.
Swiss Olympic, the country's national committee, said on Friday that as a first step interested cities will be asked to put in their bids by the end of 2016.
A task force will then evaluate the candidates before making a final decision on whether to bid by September 2017.
"We have launched this process because the fundamentals for hosting the Olympic Games ... have changed dramatically and in a good way," Swiss Olympic chief Joerg Schild said in a statement.
"With our mountains and strong winter sports tradition we are pre-destined to host again the Winter Olympic Games and we will put sound financial and environmental planning at the core of a Swiss bid."
The Alpine nation considered bidding for the 2022 Olympics with a joint effort from St Moritz/Davos but the idea was rejected in a local referendum on financial and environmental concerns.
The International Olympic Committee has since agreed a string of reforms, named Agenda 2020, aimed at making bidding for the Games less complex and cheaper, in turn attracting more cities to the process.
The 2018 edition will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea with Beijing hosting the event four years later.
Switzerland staged the Winter Olympics in 1928 and 1948, both times in St Moritz.
The IOC will choose the winning bid in 2019.
(Reporting by Karolos Grohmann; Editing by Tony Jimenez)