An International Olympic Committee (IOC) spokesperson said Wednesday from headquarters in Lausanne, that the news about Calgary’s 2026 Olympic Winter Games plebiscite defeat was unsurprising.
A statement to GamesBids.com read “It comes as no surprise following the political discussions and uncertainties right up until the last few days.”
On Tuesday 56.4 percent of voters across Calgary voted ‘no’ to pursuing a 2026 Olympic bid, a decision that will likely end the city’s two-year pursuit of the Games. The plebiscite in non-binding, but the negative result means that federal and provincial government partners will withheld their financial support of the project.
The City Council will make a final decision on next steps during a Monday meeting, but Mayor Naheed Nenshi already said Tuesday, “yeah, it clear” when asked if the bid was dead.
“We understand the disappointment of all those involved in the candidature, especially the Calgary 2026 Committee, the Canadian athletes, who have so enthusiastically been a driving force behind this project, as well as the representatives of the business community, the Paralympic Movement and the members of the First Nations who fought so hard for the Olympic project,” the IOC statement continued.
“It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympic Games did not sway the vote.”
The tone of the message is in stark contrast to a statement the IOC released in 2014 after government officials in Oslo, Norway backed away from a bid. That message by IOC Executive Director Christophe Dubi was scolding, blaming politicians for being uninformed and making “their decisions on the basis of half-truths and factual inaccuracies.”
The IOC seems to acknowledge the likely fate of the bid, even though the city has yet to officially withdraw from the campaign.
“We will continue our cooperation with Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo and Stockholm in order to ensure the best possible host for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”
The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) also weighed in on the development Tuesday with a statement.
“The Canadian Olympic Committee respects the results of tonight’s plebiscite in Calgary, but we are disappointed with the outcome,” it read.
“The opportunity to welcome the world to Canada, where people can experience the uniting power of the Games and within our nation’s culture of peace and inclusion, would have offered countless benefits to all.
“This would have been a unique opportunity for Canadians to be leaders in fulfilling the promise of a renewed vision for the Games.”
Bid books are due from the bids in Italy and Sweden on January 11. Stockholm is still struggling to secure government support before that deadline, and the Milan-Cortina project will try to move forward without federal government funding.
The IOC is expected to choose a host city at the end of June.