The process to determine the host of the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games is officially a two-horse race after Calgary city council unanimously agreed to end the Canadian city’s bid.
The vote came yesterday (Monday) after the bid was effectively ended last week when a majority of voters said ‘no’ to the proposal in a non-binding referendum. Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said that despite the collapse of the bid, he will fight to retain the provincial and federal contributions to the C$30m (€19.9m/$22.8m) fund established to support the C$5.1bn project.
Nenshi said, according to the Calgary Herald newspaper: “That was money for the city of Calgary for sports work and sports planning and we should keep it. I will continue to advocate for that. I do not anticipate the bid corporation or the city writing a cheque back to the province and the federal government for a refund.”
Calgary councillors also voted 14-1 in favour of a proposal that Nenshi lobby the provincial and federal governments to “continue their Olympic and Paralympic funding commitments” to the city, an amount that surpasses C$2bn.
The funding is envisioned as crucial in allowing Calgary to continue to invest in facilities, attract events and remain a major winter sports hub. However, Diane Colley-Urquhart, the only councillor to vote against the proposal, labelled the idea as “foolish”.
“It was a feeble attempt, in my view, to save face,” she said. “Now that we’ve defeated it and we’re not proceeding with the Olympics, we still want your money? To think we can go and now ask the federal government to still keep their commitment of $1.5bn, (to) still ask the province for the C$700m – I have no words. It was an interesting, interesting concept.”
The official exit of Calgary means that only Stockholm and the joint Italian bid from Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo remain in the running for the 2026 Games.