Calgary 2026 Secures Critical Provincial and Federal Funding For Winter Olympic Bid

Calgary’s bid for the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2026 Thursday secured critical funding from the Federal and Provincial governments that will allow for the creation of a bid corporation (BidCo).

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

Ottawa is expected to kick in CAD $10.5 million for Canada’s bid while the Province of Alberta will add $9.5 million in addition to the $9 million already available from the City of Calgary.

With the funding in place, the bid committee can begin to develop the bid book and continue meetings with the International Olympic Committee (IOC).  Had the funding been denied by either partner, the bid would have been dead.

A statement released Thursday said “the Government of Canada, the Province of Alberta and the City of Calgary are pleased to announce their support for the establishment of a bid corporation that will continue the development of hosting plans and a fully costed event budget that will inform a bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in Calgary.

The province’s support of the project comes with a condition.  According to local reports, any additional funding beyond the exploratory phase will not be provided unless Calgarians show overwhelming support in a yet-to-be planned plebiscite.

Last year city council voted to reject a plebiscite over the potential bid but last week councilors agreed to make a new decision on a possible vote at an April 10 meeting.  A city-wide plebiscite would cost close to CAD $2 million and would likely be held in October this year.

Early budget estimates put the total cost of hosting the Games at CAD $4.6 billion.

Saturday will mark a deadline for bid cities to enter the 2026 race and the IOC will invite qualified cities to submit applications in October.  Calgary City Council, after agreeing last week to continue funding the bid if their government partners join in, will decide whether to continue the process in June.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said in a statement “This partnership is an exciting step towards determining if a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is right for Calgary.”

Canada's Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) meets with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on December 21, 2016 (Photo: Twitter @JustinTrudeau)
Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau (right) meets with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi on December 21, 2016 (Photo: Twitter @JustinTrudeau)

“We have a strong legacy of sport in this city and we know we can host a great Games, and now, alongside our partners in the Government of Alberta and the Government of Canada, we can continue to figure out if a 2026 Bid is the best interests of our citizens.”

Other cities participating in the IOC’s 2026 dialogue phase include Graz and Schladming in Austria, Sapporo in Japan, Sion in Switzerland, Stockholm in Sweden and a joint Milan-Turin project from Italy.  Erzurum in Turkey might also join the race before Saturday’s deadline.

Sion is planning a June 10 regional referendum and could face a national referendum if parliament accepts a motion later this year.  A petition is circulating to force a referendum in Graz.

Kirsty Duncan, Canada’s Minister of Science and Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities said “We are always happy to see cities and sport partners showing interest in hosting national and international sport competitions, as these events support our athletes, our communities and our economy, and help galvanize a country around the power of sport.”

Ricardo Miranda, Alberta Minister of Culture and Tourism, Minister responsible for sport said “Sport is an important part of Alberta’s culture, and the province continues to gain international recognition for its ability to host successful world-class sporting events, including the Olympic Games.”

“Participating in the bid process will allow us to further examine the costs associated with hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games and ensure they are carefully balanced around the needs and expectations of Albertans, within the greater context of Alberta’s economic recovery.”

The IOC is expected to elect the 2026 host city in September 2019.

More to come.

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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