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Canadian Olympic Committee gives backing to Calgary 2026 bid

Calgary’s proposed bid for the 2026 winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has received a boost with the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) voting unanimously to approve the candidature.

The COC Session approved the candidature on Saturday, with the endorsement being a required step for the Committee, according to its governance. “This represents a very important and positive next step towards Calgary’s candidature for 2026,” Tricia Smith, president of the COC, said.

“I want to thank the Session members for their confidence. We will continue to work with all the relevant stakeholders to build momentum to ensure an inspiring and responsible Olympic bid.”

Scott Hutcheson, chair of Calgary 2026, added: “We have much work ahead of us, but this is a positive step forward on the road to preparing Calgary to bid for the Olympic and Paralympic winter Games 2026. Together, we will work on behalf of the community to deliver a transparent and dynamic bid that should present tremendous benefits for all Canadians.”

Public engagement about the potential bid will take place in the coming months. The next steps in the process include the announcement of candidate cities during the IOC Session, which takes place in Buenos Aires from October 3-5, and a plebiscite anticipated to take place later this year.

Calgary City Council in April approved a plebiscite to harness public opinion on the Canadian city’s potential bid to host the 2026 Games. 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 Canadian and Alberta governments have backed the formation of a bid corporation, with the provincial government keen on a plebiscite to assess public support for the Games.

In the wake of Saturday’s announcement from the COC, Calgary city councillor Gian-Carlo Carra told the Calgary Herald newspaper: “My perception has been from the start that the Olympics need Calgary more than Calgary needs the Olympics and if we can prove that to the world, you can’t do more significant economic development.

“If we are the place that can help reform the Olympics to the kind of Olympics they know they need to be, (rather) than the Olympics they’ve become over the last couple of decades, we can get back to that spirit of ’88 — that can-do, good-government, good-people Olympics they’re yearning to get back to. We would benefit proving to the world we could do that.”

Calgary hosted its sole edition of the winter Olympics in 1988 and will need to submit a complete bid book for the 2026 Games in January. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is due to make a final decision on the host city in September 2019.

Calgary and the COC is currently facing competition from the Austrian Olympic Committee (Graz), Italian Olympic Committee (Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan/Turin), Japanese Olympic Committee (Sapporo), Swedish Olympic Committee (Stockholm) and Turkish Olympic Committee (Erzurum).