Calgary named a bid exploration committee to examine the hosting of the 2026 Olympic Winter Games, city officials announced Monday. The committee, made up of volunteers who will analyze the cost of hosting the Games, will also determine the level of government investment required and how current facilities can be leveraged.
Calgary hosted the Games in 1988 and hope to use many of the same venues, as well as use the opportunity to build new world class winter sports facilities in the city that currently hosts many Winter Olympians around the world for training. Canada last hosted the Winter Games in Vancouver in 2010.
Former city police chief Rick Hanson will chair the committee. He said at a press conference, “today, we begin our fact-focused exploration. Our goal is to collect all the best possible information, in collaboration with the community, to see if it makes good sense to be on the 2026 Games.”
“Once we present our finding to city council, council will make a decision to proceed with an Olympic bid or not.”
“Through this exploration we want (to) see if a uniquely-Calgary Games is possible: a model that is focused on building community and supporting athletes while also being very cost effective. Our next steps will include developing working relationships with key stakeholders, including facility owners, neighbouring communities, sports federations, and others.”
“In the weeks ahead, we will be meeting with these stakeholders to determine their involvement.”
Hanson said that preliminary surveys show 60 per cent support Calgary’s bid.
Also on the committee is former International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Becky Scott and renowned Canadian speed skating champion Catriona Le May Doan.
“This committee of volunteers are some of the best minds in Calgary to be put to this task,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said Monday.
“They represent the breadth of our community, and I’m confident that the work they do will help Council make a decision on whether to move forward with a bid.”
A study from the Canadian Sport Tourism Authority says hosting the Games could bring in $3.7 billion to Alberta’s GDP and create about 40,000 jobs.
The committee is to provide updates to councillors on its progress in January and April 2017 and will bring its final report to council in July 2017. The IOC will likely open the international bid process early next year with an “invitation stage” and then accept applications prior to a deadline late in the year.
Currently Switzerland is vetting four possible regional bids for the Games before Swiss Olympic determines next spring which, if any, will move forward to the international stage.
A bid is also possible from Almaty, Kazakhstan after it lost its 2022 campaign to Beijing. Other European bids are likely but not certain after all four contenders from the continent dropped out of the previous race due to various political and economic reasons.
The committee will also develop a long-term plan for the renewal of the city’s 1988 facilities and provide an overview of the investment needed to upgrade them. The Canadian Olympic Committee will ultimately need to nominate Calgary and submit the candidate city application should the committee wish to move in that direction.
The IOC will elect a host city for the 2026 Games in 2019.
The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) will include:
- Rod McKay
- Becky Scott
- Patrick Jarvis
- Laurie Stretch
- Sheila McIntosh
- Chris Lee
- Catriona Le May Doan
- Irfhan Rawji
- Dale Henwood
- Patti Pon
- Wilton Littlechild
- Gene Edworthy
- Sue Riddell Rose
- Maureen Killoran
- Scott Thon
- Karen Ball
Non-voting committee members:
- Doug Mitchell (honorary chair)
- Kurt Hanson
- Chima Nkemdirim