Province To Fund Calgary 2026 Olympic Bid But Requires Plebiscite Before January In Order To Keep Bid Alive

Calgary in Canada will require a plebiscite this year if it hopes to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, a spokesperson for the Alberta Provincial government confirmed Thursday on Twitter when she clarified funding conditions.

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

Last week Provincial officials announced that CAD $10 million (USD $7.83 million) would be committed to help fund a Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation (BidCo), along with the $10.5 million offered by Federal partners in Ottawa and $9.5 million allotted from city coffers.

But Thursday a spokesperson for the Premier of Alberta said no funds will be made available to the organization of the Games unless a plebiscite is held.

“The province has commited [sic] $10m to the BidCo but we would not commit any funding to the games without a plebiscite,” Cheryl Oates said on Twitter.

There had been confusion in Calgary this week as many City Councilors and media believed the funding of the bid was contingent on the city holding a plebiscite, but as correctly reported last week – that was not the case.

But the clarification doesn’t change the bid’s need to hold a public vote this year.

Potential Calgary 2026 Plebiscite Timeline (Calgary City Hall)

CAD $30 million in total is budgeted to fund the bid until September 2019 when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to elect the host city for the Games.  The IOC will invite qualified cities to bid at an all-members Session in Buenos Aires this October.

But in January 2019, candidates are expected by the IOC to submit bid books complete with a core guarantee file, including financial commitments from government partners to fund the Games themselves, and any potential cost overruns.  The final guarantees are due April 12.

With the province’s condition, the timing means a plebiscite would have to be held by January.  Without the necessary approved funding, Calgary’s bid will be dropped from the process.

It is not clear whether the Federal government has yet to promise funds to organize the Games.

These guarantee rules are a staple in the Olympic bid process and are indicated in the 2026 Candidature process as well.

Calgary City Council will meet April 10 to discuss a possible plebiscite and the continuance of the bid itself in a meeting planned to discuss public engagement for the project.  If a plebiscite is rejected it’s possible the bid may have to end too.

Councilors were told last month that a public vote would take six months to plan and cost almost $2 million.  The vote would likely occur in October.

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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