Calgary Could Consider Partnering With Edmonton In 2026 Olympic Winter Games Bid

Cautioning that it was still too still too early to make such decisions, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Thursday that partnering with Alberta’s capital of Edmonton on the city’s 2026 Olympic Winter Games bid would be considered in the future.

Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988

Calgary last hosted the Olympic Winter Games in 1988

“If we move forward with the Olympics, I absolutely think there would still be an opportunity for partnership,” Nenshi told reporters, the Calgary Sun reported.

“It was just we didn’t want to start there because we really wanted to understand the state of our own facilities.

“If we get to the point of actually designing what a Games would look like, that would be the point where we would deeply engage with [Edmonton].”

The remarks came after Edmonton’s Mayor Don Iveson said Calgary had tuned down his city’s offer to get involved in the bid, a project he thinks is too fiscally irresponsible for one city to do on its own.

After bidding for the 2022 Commonwealth Games Edmonton was forced to drop out of the race when world oil prices plummeted causing budget issues for the Province.  On Tuesday, a city report suggested hosting major sport events was no longer appropriate, and instead smaller world championships would provide better value.

But Iveson said a regional Winter Games in Alberta might be a good fit, citing Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am Games as an example where venues and costs could be shared across a greater region.

Last week the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) released a study that estimated the Games could cost CDN $4.6 billion (USD $3.5 billon) due to the need for new venues, including at least one new hockey arena.  But in a rare pre-bid comment, the International Olympic Committee (IOC), suggested that it could work with a Calgary 2026 bid to lower costs using bid reforms approved three years ago and further changes expected next month.

Though the IOC did not mention specifics, it’s likely that they would suggest reducing or eliminating the construction of new venues and using facilities located in other cities instead.  Edmonton, almost 300 km from Calgary, already has a suitable hockey arena as well as other sport facilities.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi

Three years ago the IOC suggested to organizers that instead of building a new sliding venue in South Korea for Luge, Bobsleigh and Skeleton at the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Games, the facilities in Nagano, Japan would be acceptable.  However, the South Korean’s preferred building their own venue so they could have the Winter Sport legacy.

Under new rules set to be rubber-stamped by the IOC membership July 11, the 2026 bid campaign will run only one year and would likely launch some time mid-2018 before a 2019 election.  Detailed bid plans could still be a year away and should Calgary 2026 want to engage Edmonton, or if the IOC advises such a strategy, there will be time in the future to do so.

So far only Sion in Switzerland has officially launched a bid for the 2026 Games, but that city will likely need to survive a referendum next year over funding the Games.

Other cities interested in lodging bids are past hosts Innsbruck and Sapporo as well as Erzurum in Turkey.  Almaty in Kazakhstan was runner-up to Beijing in the 2022 Winter Games bid and could also be considered a contender in 2026.

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