Calgary 2026 Confirms Federal Government To Guarantee Security; Olympic Cost Overruns Insurable

The Calgary 2026 Olympic bid committee Tuesday assured city council at an assessment committee meeting that full Games security coverage, including guarantees, is in place despite recent media reports.

Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988
Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988

Organizers said they have an unsigned letter from the Federal Ministry of Public Safety outlining the guarantee, and that it will be signed by the ministry and included in the bid book when submitted to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) by January 11.

Last week the Federal Ministry of Sport couldn’t confirm that the guarantee would be provided at the national level.

New developments unfolded as advance polls opened across the city ahead of a scheduled November 13 plebiscite set to determine the fate of Canada’s Olympic bid.  Long line-ups of voters were reported across the city as taxpayers prepared to weigh-in on the contentious Olympic bid debate that has consumed the city in recent weeks.

Cost Overrun Insurance

City council was also told Tuesday that cost overrun insurance was available and attainable by the bid according to a private assessment by international risk management company AON who reported that Calgary 2026 plans are a “pretty manageable footprint.”

A report said that the CAD $200 million insurance that the bid is proposing would be available at a cost of about 10 percent of the premium (CAD $20 million) and that there were large international underwriters willing to provide the coverage.

The coverage would indemnify taxpayers for project overruns due to circumstances beyond the reasonable control of the organizing committee including such things a poor weather, labour shortages and strikes, changed material costs, environmental issues, etc.

What will not be included are project scope changes or overages caused by the contractor that they are able to cover themselves.

The coverage kicks in when the cost of the project drifts in excess of the set maximum price in the contract plus a 10 percent deductible.  The insurance would be arranged for each project individually.

Public Engagement Poll “Scrubbing”

City employees reporting on the Calgary 2026 public engagement process admitted that nefarious methods were used to try to skew the results of an online poll asking respondents whether they wanted Calgary to submit an Olympic bid.  According to a report, 46 percent of the responses had to be scrubbed because they showed evidence of “bot” activity – automated processes used to create false responses made to seem legitimate.

The engagement team said they used  IP addresses, response frequency and timing, and manual analyses to determine which responses to exclude from the report.

Calgary 2026 Olympic bid supporters rally in front of City Hall, urging Councilors to vote bid through to a plebiscite (@YesCalgary2026 Photo)
Calgary 2026 Olympic bid supporters rally in front of City Hall, urging Councilors to vote bid through to a plebiscite (@YesCalgary2026 Photo)

The approximately 6000 votes scrubbed from the online poll were “a mix,” staff reported, but “more from the ‘yes’ side”.

Supporters of the Olympic bid had raised concerns that at one point the real-time online poll results had heavily favored the “no” side with up to 80 percent of the vote, and Yes Calgary 2026 campaign members were able to demonstrate how a “bot attack” could be set up.  Later in the assessment process, the numbers in the poll drew closer.

The bulk of the bot activity occurred October 26, shortly before the poll was shut down two days later after collecting responses for almost one month.

The end results, that have now been drawn into question, revealed that 33 percent support a bid while 49 percent are against.  17 percent of respondents were undecided.

Feedback from the public engagement process also revealed that of the potential Calgary 2026 benefits, reputation and legacy were foremost on the minds of respondents.  Of the drawbacks, the financial future of Calgary was the key concern.

Report Gives Positive Outlook

Also Tuesday, a Calgary 2026 commissioned report by the Canada West Foundation painted a rosy picture of the possible outcome of the Games.

The report asked “Is the Calgary 2026 Games bid an economical, cost-effective and responsible approach?” and “Would the Games provide significant benefits for the host region?”  The report concluded that the answer to both questions is “yes.”

“An analysis of the costs, benefits, risks and opportunities of the Calgary 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic bid shows that, if the conditions as outlined in this report are met, Calgary can truly be different,” the report said.

The report centered its assessment on how the Calgary 2026 plans are markedly different than past bids that have incurred cost overruns.

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Download the full Canada West Foundation Calgary 2026 Report


A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.

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