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Calgary steps up plans for 2026 Olympics bid

Calgary has moved forward with its plans to bid to stage the 2026 winter Olympic Games after the Canadian city’s council gave the go-ahead for a new committee to be formed to explore the merits of such a move.

The Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) recommended to the city council that the committee be formed to explore potential costs and benefits of bidding. The council agreed to sanction the formation of the committee yesterday (Monday), with Druh Farrell and Sean Chu the only two councillors to vote against the proposal.

A CSTA study found that hosting the 2026 winter Games in Calgary, which staged the showpiece event in 1988, would generate around 40,000 jobs in Alberta, as well as C$3.7bn (€2.6bn/$2.9bn) for the province’s economy and C$2.6bn in additional labour income.

The exploration committee’s proceedings would require the council to provide up to C$5m in funding, with the CSTA claiming around 20 per cent of that figure could be raised privately. Although some councillors questioned the motives behind the bid and thought the money would be better spent elsewhere, the recommendation received the necessary backing.

“From almost the moment that I was elected Mayor, six years ago almost, citizens have been coming to me saying, it’s time,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said, according to the Calgary Herald newspaper. “It’s time in the worldwide Olympic movement; it’s time in the sport history of this city, and it’s time in the cultural history of this city for us to bid for another Olympic Games. What this council heard today is that it is time. It’s time to explore this bid in detail.”

There have so far been no official bids for the staging of the 2026 Games, although the Swiss Olympic Committee is pursuing a bid with a number of proposals on the table. Quebec City in Canada last month dropped its plans to stage the event after Mayor Régis Labeaume decided its chances of winning would be too slim.

The makeup of Calgary’s bid exploration committee is set to be announced in August. It is scheduled to report to city council twice before a final report is provided by July 2017.

PyeongChang in South Korea will stage the next edition of the winter Games in 2018, with the Chinese capital of Beijing set to play host in 2022. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select the host city for the 2026 Games in 2019.