A new poll commissioned by the City of Calgary and set to be released to Calgary 2026 bid officials Tuesday shows that citizen support for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid is on the rise with 53 per cent saying that they ‘support’ or ‘strongly’ support the project.
The survey, conducted randomly among 500 Calgarians by telephone from July 23 – 29 also revealed that 23 per cent are ‘strongly opposed’ and 11 per cent are ‘somewhat opposed’ to the City’s bid to host the Games for the second time. A further 13 per cent said they were undecided.
Of those supporting the bid, 30 per cent said the Games would “benefit the economy,” 31 per cent said there would be an “increase in tourism,” and 23 per cent think the Games will “reinvigorate Calgary/showcase the city as a place for new business.”
An overwhelming 73 per cent blamed costs and taxes for their opposition while 17 per cent referenced “funding sources” and 15 per cent “negative economic impact.”
Calgarians will head to the polls November 13 to decide whether they want to bid for the Games in a non-binding plebiscite that is likely to decide the fate of the city’s bid.
About 49 per cent of undecided respondents wanted to see a clear outline of the costs of the bid or the costs of hosting before making a final decision. Among all respondents, 54 per cent said they needed to know the project cost.
The margin of error for the survey that was conducted by NRG Research Group is 4.38 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
The City’s survey showed greater support than that of a July 23 CBC poll that revealed only 50 per cent support with 44 per cent opposed.
Opponents of the bid were quick to point out that, according to the survey, 75 per cent of respondents have concerns about the bid, and the results are based on limited information.
Dan Gauld, Founder of NoCalgaryOlympics, said “with no information on the costs, contingency, risks, cost-sharing, and little clarity on a venue plan, it doesn’t appear Calgarians have anything behind which to place their support, much less their confidence.”
Last year the an exploration committee put a preliminary CAD $4.6 billion (USD $3.5 billion) price tag on the Games but later said the actual cost could rise. Calgarians are expecting an updated budget in October, ahead of the plebiscite. The bid committee is exploring cost-cutting measures, including leveraging venues in Edmonton and Vancouver, to reduce risk and stay with new IOC efficiency guidelines dubbed “Olympic Agenda 2020.”
The IOC said last year that the preliminary budget was too high, and they would help reduce costs.
Bid proponent group YesCalgary2026 representative Jason Ribeiro said on Twitter “At this stage, if I’m the Olympic committee or council, I think they can feel heartened by this data.”
“Heartened by the notion that not only do people believe in this city’s livability…but that a majority feel informed about this bid & trusting of their government.”
Calgary is among five cities including Stockholm in Sweden, Sapporo in Japan, Erzurum in Turkey a yet-to-be-named joint project from Italy, interested in bidding for the Games in 2026. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will release a short list of qualified cities in October before electing a winner in September 2019.