Olympic bid opposition group NoCalgaryOlympics is calling for greater transparency from the Calgary 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid even as the city’s Mayor orders a full forensic investigation over the leak of confidential information from City Council Chambers.
Last week CBC reported that the city had withheld information about plans to relocate a transit terminal in order to accommodate the proposed Olympic Village – something that could add to the city’s costs to prepare for the Games. A “secret report” apparently contains other such costs not included in documentation made public earlier this month.
Calgary 2026 CEO Mary Moran said the removal costs of the so-called “bus barns” was included in the $3 billion (USD $2.32) estimate of funds needed from the three orders of government to prepare for the Games, but it is understood that the construction of a new terminal would fall under additional costs not part of the Olympic plans.
The leak of confidential information occurred just as the bid launched its public consultation process with two community meetings held last Thursday.
NoCalgaryOlympics reacted by issuing a statement declaring that the bid isn’t living up to promises of transparency, and “robust” public consultation ahead of a planned November 13 plebiscite that could determine the fate of the bid.
1/4 Calgarians need more and better info for Nov 13 vote. Join us in asking for 4 things by Oct 13: #1 #Calgary2026 must detail ACTUAL, not draft plan incl. full costs, cost sharing, cost overrun coverage plus detailed venue and other infrastructure needs.
— No Calgary Olympics (@noyycolympics) September 24, 2018
“The Calgary2026 bid development process included commitments to Calgarians of transparency, featuring the Alberta Government’s funding requirement to provide 30 days in advance of the plebiscite full information about the plan and costs, and commitments of ‘robust’ community engagement from June  through to the plebiscite by City Council,” the statement read.
“It appears that none of these three crucial commitments to Calgarians is being met.”
NoCalgaryOlympics claim the draft plan released by the bid committee, with some key information omitted, doesn’t live up to the required standards of transparency.
“Calgarians can’t be asked to vote on a draft plan, but must have a real plan.”
The group also cited other missing details including the chosen venue for curling, and clarification around plans for a possible National Hockey League arena to house the Calgary Flames.
It’s not unusual for Olympic bid plans to be in development stages one year out from the election. Guarantees for the availability of venues are not needed by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) until April 2019.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi called for an investigation into the leak during Monday’s council meeting, with overtones that he suspected the source was a fellow council member. Councillors had voted to keep the information sealed until it had been further vetted in closed-door meetings.
“I will be writing to the integrity commissioner asking for a full and formal investigation of this particular leak.
“I will be asking the integrity commissioner to use its full authority to conduct that investigation, which includes a forensic audit of your devices, personal and city-owned, as well as email and text messages.”
Officials claim certain bid details must remain confidential to maintain a competitive advantage over rival bids internationally including Stockholm in Sweden, Milan-Cortina in Italy and Erzurum in Turkey.
The IOC will announce a shortlist of candidate during a meeting in Buenos Aires October 8 and will elect the winning host city September 2019.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com 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.