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Calgary elects to proceed with 2026 Olympic Games bid plans

The City of Calgary has voted to proceed with plans to bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games after considering two options drawn up by a working group.

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) presented two options for Council’s consideration yesterday (Wednesday) regarding the next steps for the Olympic bid project. The first option was to not move forward with a bid and to use the work CBEC prepared to develop a facility lifecycle strategy from Calgary’s staging of the 1988 Games and return to Council with a recommendation for sustaining the facilities.

The second proposal was to harness the International Olympic Committee’s extended timeline to explore potential funding opportunities with other orders of government and the IOC itself. The additional time would also be used to address critical criteria prior to Calgary moving beyond the IOC’s Invitation Phase.

Council endorsed the second option stating this will provide the time to investigate potential solutions that could help reduce the city’s risks of bidding for a potential 2026 winter Games.

“This vote very much reflects what Calgarians have told us, which is that it would be a great thing to host the Olympics but it has to be right for Calgary,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said, according to Canadian broadcaster CBC.

“What council decided today was, pencils down for a little while, let's analyse the deal L.A. has received (for the 2028 summer Olympics) with the (IOC), let's think about what might make sense for Calgary, let's refine some numbers. But really, it's a matter of waiting until the IOC has a sense of what their host city contract for the Winter (Olympics) will look like and that probably won't be until next spring.”

The council meeting was told that a potential joint bid with Edmonton would also be explored. Calgary’s staging of the 2026 Games would likely cost C$4.6bn (€3.05bn/$3.42bn) should the Canadian city successfully bid for the event, according to a report issued in June.

CBEC estimated an overall funding requirement of C$2.4bn to supplement the C$2.2bn in revenue from Games operations to account for the full Games cost. CBEC said the funding requirement is reduced by the ability to re-use existing venues, eliminating the need to build multiple new facilities in favour of upgrading the same infrastructure used for Calgary’s staging of the 1988 Games. By contrast the 2010 Games in Vancouver and Whistler cost C$7.7bn.

Councillor Peter Demong, who voted against continuing the process yesterday, said: “I just think it's time that we face facts and look at the situation and say, 'We've got a debt situation with Calgary, it's not a bad situation right now but there's a number of things coming forward.’

“You look at the provincial end of things and there's an extensive debt issue building. The feds, again, are in a similar situation … there is a huge delta of dollars involved and I don't know if going forward with that is the right thing we should be doing right now.”

Funding for the next phase of work will come from a C$5m budget created for the CBEC, which has spent C$3m so far. Another report is due next month.

In other winter sports news, the Canadian town of Liverpool, Nova Scotia has been awarded hosting rights for the 2019 World Junior Curling Championships. It will mark the first time the WJCC has been contested in Canada since 2009 in Vancouver – the test event for the 2010 Olympic winter Games.