A “solid majority” in Calgary support the city’s proposed bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games according to a Mainstreet poll, commissioned by Postmedia. The results released Tuesday show that 61 per cent of those surveyed across the city want Calgary to host the Games in 2026, while only 28 per cent were against the idea.
“These are solid numbers in support of an Olympic bid” Quito Maggi, President of Mainstreet Research said.
“Support is consistent among gender lines and age demographics, though seniors are the least likely to support bidding for the games (at only 55% support).”
The city organized a committee six months ago to explore whether Calgary should bid. and the volunteer board was given $5 million to investigate the feasibility of the project, including potential costs, infrastructure needs and public support. A recommendation will be reported to city council in July.
Last month Rick Hanson, head of the exploratory committee said that the biggest challenge they have is to manage public opinion, and the apparent distrust and cynicism of the Olympics. The poll results suggest that this may not be as much as an issue as previously thought.
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) will likely endorse the bid if all three government tiers are behind the project. Applications will be due into the International Olympic Committee (IOC) early next year.
The poll of 831 Calgarians conducted March 10 was conducted using both land lines and cell phones and is considered accurate within 3.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.
Maggi said “64 per cent of those who support bidding for the Games pointed to civic pride – showcasing Calgary and Canada on the world stage. 18 per cent mentioned the entertainment value of the games as their primary reason for support while another 11 per cent support a bid because they believe the economic impact of the Games will be lucrative for Calgary.
“Cost is the primary factor for those who oppose bidding on the Games – 64 per cent believe the Games will cost too much or are a waste of money.
“Another 23 per cent expressed that they were not generally interested in the Olympics – they don’t watch the Games. 5 per cent of respondents indicated that the cost of the bid itself was their primary reason for opposing the Games – most of these respondents expressed they don’t believe Calgary will be awarded the Games, and therefore, the bid itself is a waste of time and money.”
The positive poll results will also be a breath of fresh air for the IOC that has recently faced declining interest from the general public in hosting the Games. Last month a possible 2026 bid from St. Moritz, Switzerland was called off after it was defeated in a referendum with over 60 per cent opposed to funding it. For the 2022 Winter Games six European cities canceled bid plans for various political and economic reasons.
Four cities vying to host the 2024 Summer Olympics have already dropped out of the race in the face of public opposition. The circumstances have become so dire for the IOC that last week it was announced that a committee would investigate bid process reforms, as well as the possibility of awarding a Games to both remaining bids – Paris and Los Angeles – in 2024 and 2028.
Calgary last hosted the Games in 1988 and Vancouver hosted Canada’s other Winter Games in 2010.
Should Calgary get the COC’s nomination and move forward with the bid, it could face a large field of international rivals. The Swiss city of Sion is set to be officially nominated to bid for the 2026 Games on April 11. Other possible bidders including former Winter Games hosts Innsbruck and Sapporo, and a city in Sweden, Erzurum in Turkey as well as 2022 runner-up Almaty in Kazakhstan are said to be investigating campaigns.
The IOC is expected to name the winning 2026 host city in 2019.