Despite Delays and Hurdles, Calgary 2026 Remains Optimistic About Olympic Bid

Officials representing Calgary’s bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games Monday expressed confidence that they would receive the full funding necessary in time for the March 31 application deadline set by the International Olympic Committee (IOC).

Olympic Saddledome in Calgary, Canada - host of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games (Wikipedia Photo)
Olympic Saddledome in Calgary, Canada – host of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games.  The IOC says the venue is acceptable for hosting Olympic Ice Hockey in 2026 (Wikipedia Photo)

A draft bid budget by the exploration committee outlines the need for CDN $30 million (USD $24.3 million), with $10 million expected from the province of Alberta, $10.5 million from the Canadian government and a further $9.5 million from the city.  To date, the governments have yet to approve the release of funding but final decisions are expected by the end of February.

Bid spokesperson Kyle Ripley told city Councillors at their meeting Monday that “the commitment shown by the federal and provincial governments has given administration a sense of confidence.”

The Province is currently studying the bid ahead of a decision, but the Federal approval process has been delayed due to a change in the minister in charge of sports.  Last week Calgary Member of Parliament Kent Hehr was forced to resign his cabinet position in the wake of sexual harassment allegations.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters that he had already been in touch with Hehr’s replacement, MP Kirsty Duncan, and that the Federal decision will remain on track.

Councillors were also told that city administrators were heeding the advice given by the IOC during a visit to Calgary earlier this month, and are meeting with officials in Edmonton about including the provincial Capital in the Games concept.  Discussions will likely include using the new Rogers Place Arena to host some of the ice hockey tournament.

IOC’s Executive Director Christophe Dubi said last week that he would also welcome the idea of hosting some events at the Whistler facilities used for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games in neighboring British Columbia.

A small delegation from Calgary is expected to travel to South Korea next week to attend a special observers program at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games, but a Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) spokesperson told that there will be no promotion of the bid at Canada Olympic House, an opportunity the IOC allows for cities engaged in the bid process.

If the Calgary bid gains approval and moves forward, it could be facing off against a European rival when the IOC picks its winner at a September 2019 meeting in Milan, Italy.

Canada Olympic House at PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games (COC rendering)
Canada Olympic House at PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games.  Calgary 2026 will miss the opportunity of promoting the potential Olympic bid at this venue (COC rendering)

Sion remains the only declared bidder but the Swiss city must face a dangerous referendum later this year.  Last week a region including Graz in Austria emerged with a bid campaign only months after Innsbruck, also in Austria, was forced to abandon its Olympic dream when it was overturned by a public referendum.

Interest has also been expressed from Sapporo in Japan and three U.S. cities including Salt Lake City, Denver and Reno-Tahoe – but those campaigns will more likely target 2030.  Stockholm in Sweden has been trying to organize political support to pursue the Games, but has so far failed.

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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