No Calgary Olympics Draws Inspiration From Successful No Boston Olympics Campaign As Calgary 2026 Support Drops

Organizers of the No Calgary Olympics 2026 bid opposition campaign claim they are building momentum as they draw support from No Boston Olympics.

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

No Boston Olympics Co-founder Chris Dempsey gave advice to Calgary opposition leaders Daniel Gauld and Erin Waite this week, as the city prepares for a November plebiscite to decide whether or not to pursue a second Winter Olympic Games.

“What we saw in Boston is that the more our citizens learned about the Olympic bid, the less they liked it,” Dempsey said.

“The International Olympic Committee (IOC) requires host cities to sign a taxpayer guarantee to cover cost overruns. Bostonians weren’t interested in that deal and Calgarian taxpayers should think twice before signing on the dotted line.”

In 2015, Dempsey and his team leveraged social media to rally massive public opposition to Boston’s fledgling 2026 bid, ultimately forcing the city’s Mayor to abandon plans before it reached the starting line.  Los Angeles instead stepped in to represent the United States and was eventually awarded the 2028 edition of the Games.

Dempsey later consulted with opposition in other potential bid cities including Hamburg and Budapest – both later forced to drop their bids for the 2024 Games – and in Innsbruck before the Austrian city was defeated in a referendum.

He has also been involved in opposition meetings for a potential Denver 2030 bid.

Last month Sion in Switzerland dropped its 2026 bid when it fell short in a public vote over funding the project, and earlier this month Graz canceled similar plans when a consensus of support could not be reached in Parliament.

“When citizens are given a say, they are choosing to put their own priorities first, and not to sign a lousy deal with the IOC,” Dempsey said.

For the 2022 Winter Games, four European bids from six contenders dropped out of the race before Beijing defeated Almaty in Kazakhstan in the final election.

Waite added, “We’re just a few days after [the Calgary] Stampede. We know Calgarians love a great community event and celebration.

“But spending billions of dollars to host the IOC for three weeks just isn’t a sensible choice. There are so many other ways to build and improve our great city.”

A poll this month revealed support for a Calgary bid dropped to 50 per cent in the city, down seven per cent since March.

No Calgary Olympics say they don’t think the Olympics are the right choice for the city, and the financial risk is too high.  They have launched a #whatelse2026 social media campaign to inspire Calgarians to come up with other ways to create economic growth and legacies.

Calgary’s opposition claim every Olympics since 1960 has gone over budget, but IOC President Thomas Bach insists that this trend has already been reversed by the organization’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reform package that promotes sustainability and cost-cutting measures when organizing a Games.

Boston 2024 and Opponents Debate Olympic Bid (Fox 25 Screen Grab)
Boston 2024 and Opponents, including No Boston Olympic’s Chris Dempsey (second from right) Debate Olympic Bid (Fox 25 Screen Grab)

Bach said last month “the most obvious one is the announcement by POCOG that the PyeongChang 2018 Organising Committee has produced a multimillion-dollar surplus – even after not having fully benefited from the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020.

“POCOG President Lee was clear that this was possible only because of the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, and because of the close cooperation with the IOC.”

The IOC is expected to release full budget details from PyeongChang 2018 in September.

Calgary is competing against Stockholm in Sweden, Sapporo in Japan, Erzurum in Turkey and a bid from among Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo in Italy.  The IOC will announce a short list in October and elect the winning city in September 2019.

All cities currently in the race face obstacles that could prevent them from arriving at the finish line.

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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