UPDATE: Calgary and Stockholm Ramping Up 2026 Olympic Bid Websites and Social Media Presence Ahead of Anticipated Campaigns

The launch of Calgary’s official 2026 Olympic Bid website and rival Stockholm’s social media presence appear imminent with recent developments.

Calgary2026.ca / August 15, 2018

Calgary2026.ca / Screen capture August 15, 2018

A website representing the potential Canadian bid that appeared to be in test mode had been viewable at Calgary2026.ca and at the same domains with the .com, .org and .net extensions – but has since been locked with a password (after the original version of this article was filed, disclosing the discovery of the site.)

Though Calgary 2026 did not immediately respond to GamesBids.com’s request for information, a Calgary city manager said she understands that the official website “launch is imminent and should be up in the next few days.”

With the tag line “With Open Arms / À Bras Ourvert”, the city references its desire to welcome athletes to its second Games.

“We are rekindling the flame for the Winter Games by engaging our youth, building vibrant communities and warmly welcoming the world in 2026,” a message on the home page explains.

A Calgary 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games bid is far from assured as the city faces upcoming obstacles.  On September 10 City Council members are expected to hold an “exit ramp” vote that could immediately end the bid if Councillors continue to fear that Provincial and Federal partners are not fully cooperating with the planning and funding.  In October the International Olympic Committee (IOC) will select a short list of qualified cities and in the likely case that Calgary is chosen – the Canadian city will vote in a plebiscite that will likely determine the fate of the project.

In both English and French, messaging on the website clarifies that the bid is still being explored, while adding the inspirational context more common with Olympic bid websites.  An “About Calgary 2026” page reads “Dream big – with creativity, innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit, we are exploring the possibilities of hosting the 2026 Winter Games.”

A quote on the FAQ page claims “Staying true – Integrity, accountability and transparency will contribute to our success.”

The FAQ section also answers questions from “Who is responsible for preparing a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Games?” to “When will we know all the details of the Calgary 2026 Winter Games bid?”

It also addresses cost issues by breaking them down into separate operational and venue/infrastructure questions.

Branding on the page is minimal – a simple logo including the “calgary 2026” mark appears, written with words stacked in white lowercase text on a red square.  The IOC allows those bids participating in the dialogue phase to use the Olympic rings along with their simple word marks, and cities can create more elaborate designs once they are on the candidate short list.

The absence of rings in Calgary’s design may indicate the lack of firm city approval to move forward.

“Dream big – with creativity, innovation and our entrepreneurial spirit, we are exploring the possibilities of hosting the 2026 Winter Games.” – Calgary2026.ca

Meanwhile, Stockholm’s 2026 bid is still seeking needed government support before guarantees of such are due into the IOC in January 2019.  But that hasn’t stopped the Swedish Olympic Committee (SOK) from organizing ahead of fall elections that they hope will swing the political environment in its favour.

The SOK recently purchased the rights of the domain name Stockholm2026.org along with “stockholm2026” Facebook and Twitter accounts for NOK 24,000 (USD $2,840) from an Oslo, Norway resident.

Roger Pettersen said he registered the Stockholm domain and accounts in 2015 after his own city of Oslo was forced to drop its 2022 Winter Games bid.  He supported that failed project and saw an opportunity with Stockholm in 2026.

“If Stockholm wants to win the people’s support,” he said, “very wise strategies and good arguments, especially on social media, are required.”

Other variations of the “Stockholm2026” domain names have already been registered, but apparently by different parties.

The IOC requires cities take control of key domain names while organizing their bids.  The Candidature Process document explains “To reduce the risk of “cybersquatting”, measures should also be taken by each City/NOC to register, as soon as practically possible, domain names which are of value to the City’s application, such as “[City] 2026” in the extensions .com/.net/.org as well as in the concerned country code.”

In 2016, Rome’s 2024 Olympic bid leveraged the International Arbitration Centre for Internet Disputes (UDRP) to successfully wrest the Roma2024.com domain name from an alleged cybersquatter.

Last year American Stephen Frayne and the IOC arranged an undisclosed settlement after the former was accused of cybersquatting in connection with the registration of hundreds of city/year domain name combinations that mimicked possible future Olympic Games.  It was alleged that Frayne acted in bad faith and registered the domains to profit from IOC goodwill.  Legal experts claimed that it would have been difficult for the IOC to prove that it owns the rights to trademarks without the word “Olympic”.

Frayne still owns the registrations to the domains, including Tokyo2020.com, the name of the next upcoming Summer Games.

Calgary2026.ca / Screen capture August 15, 2018

Calgary2026.ca / Screen capture August 15, 2018

“Calgary2026” account names have already been registered with Facebook and Twitter, but are not currently in use.

Sion in Switzerland, before a canton-wide referendum ended its bid earlier this year, had fully developed a website along with active social media accounts to distribute information about the project while contributing a supportive voice to the online conversation.

Other cities currently interested in the race have yet to create significant online footprints.  Sapporo in Japan is still mulling the possibility of delaying its bid until 2030, Erzurum in Turkey seems like a longshot to earn a spot on the IOC shortlist, and three cities in Italy – Milan, Turin and Cortina d’Ampezzo – have yet to develop a strategy to move a joint bid forward.

The IOC will elect a winning city in September 2019.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil