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Calgary approves further funds for Olympic Games bid study

The City of Calgary has voted in favour of committing up to C$2m (€1.3m/$1.6m) in additional funding for a study over a potential bid from the Canadian city to host the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Last week, the city council voted 10-4 in favour of maintaining the process and politicians have now followed up on this by also granted approval for the extra funds to support the ongoing effort, by a vote of 9-4.

According to the Calgary Herald newspaper, the city has given the green light for a further C$1m to aid the bid exploration process by the end of the year. Calgary has already dedicated C$5m to exploring the possibility of a bid.

An additional C$1m would also be committed to the project, should federal and provincial governments quickly come on board. Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said governments must declare their allegiance before the end of the year.

“This is going to be a mutual decision between the three orders of government on whether or not to move forward,” Nenshi said. “It’s not our intent to be bullying about this whole thing, but the timelines are the timelines.”

The approval comes after the release of two reports on the potential economic impact of Calgary hosting the 2026 Games, both of which were commissioned by the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee.

A study from the Deloitte and the Conference Board said that staging the Games could provide a host of economic benefits to the city, and although a joint report by University of Calgary professor Trevor Tombe and West Virginia University professor Brad Humphreys agreed, it also said there could be high economic costs as a result of staging the Olympics.

Meanwhile, the council has also voted to approve a study of staging the Games across a number of cities to help cut costs.

Edmonton, Vancouver and Whistler have been highlighted as possible co-host locations, with the idea of using existing facilities in one or more of the cities to stage Games events. Vancouver hosted the 2010 edition of the winter Olympics, with Whistler also participating, while Edmonton staged the 1988 Games.

Speaking in an interview with the Canadian Press news agency, Christophe Dubi, executive director of the Olympic Games for the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said he is “extremely happy” that Calgary is looking at several options regarding a potential bid.

Dubi said: “Calgary has got tremendous assets to bid. You have tremendous capabilities to host in Canada. You have very good expertise in Games organisation. You also have the support of the population for winter sport in general.

“It's a die-hard sport-loving nation. I think you have all the raw materials to do something extraordinary.”

The city council is next set to discuss the Olympic bid in the new year. Dubi in September said that talks over the 2026 Games were held at the IOC’s Session with Innsbruck (Austria), Sion (Switzerland), Calgary (Canada) and Stockholm (Sweden).

Innsbruck has subsequently dropped out following a referendum, while the likes of Almaty (Kazakhstan), Telemark (Norway) and Sapporo (Japan) have also expressed an interest in bidding. The US Olympic Committee is weighing up its options with Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno all touted as potential bid cities.