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Bid leader appointed for Calgary 2026 as November referendum set

Mary Moran has been appointed as chief executive of the organisation leading Calgary’s bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games, as the Canadian city’s council approved the wording of the question local voters will be asked in a November plebiscite on the project.

Moran will lead the Calgary 2026 bid corporation by taking a leave of absence from her current position as head of Calgary Economic Development. The former competitive figure skater becomes the first woman to lead an Olympic bid in Canada.

“There are four big things we have to focus on, the first one is completing a rigorous analysis that needs to be done so we can get all parties agreeing to what the costs are going to be,” Moran told the Reuters news agency.

“Then I would say the second big priority is going to be making sure we get the multi-party agreement done, the third would be the plebiscite and all the way along in that is public engagement. Also, I think Calgarians have a lot of questions and we need to start listening to them and have healthy discussions about the concerns or hopes that they have.”

Moran will take up her new role on August 13 and her appointment comes after the city council on Monday voted to set a deadline for clarity on funding commitments for the bid from provincial and federal governments.

Should the bid go ahead, the city, provincial and federal governments would split the C$30m (€19.6m/$23.1m) bid cost three ways. The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee has outlined a projected cost of C$4.6bn for the Games itself. The city council has set September 10 as the date for the funding deadline, with the Calgary Herald stating that failure to secure firm commitments could derail the bid.

“We have to spend a lot more time with city council having dialogue and discussion with them,” Moran said, according to the newspaper. “We just haven’t had a chance to because (Calgary 2026) hasn’t been up and operating yet.”

“It’s really easy to make a decision based on not having information, and the absence of information makes it even easier to say no. But I would just ask people to wait for the information and wait for facts to make their conclusion.”

Meanwhile, the city council has said the November 13 plebiscite will see voters decide on the question – “Are you for or are you against Calgary hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games?”

However, the results of the vote would not be binding and will provide only part of the input the city will use to determine whether to host the Games, which Calgary last staged in 1988.