Scott Hutcheson has been named Chair of Calgary’s bid to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, the city announced Thursday at a press conference at the Olympic Oval – the venue that staged speed skating competitions during the 1988 Winter Games in the city.
“Meetings start tomorrow, and there is so much to learn,” said Hutcheson, who is Chair of Aspen Properties, and Chair of WinSport – the organization that manages the venue legacy of the Calgary 1988 Games.
“This is a giant task,” he added.
Hutcheson, a real estate entrepreneur who was part of the Canadian Alpine Ski Team from 1978 to 1972 said the search for a CEO and vice-Chair would begin immediately, to help oversee Canada’s first bid for the Olympics since Vancouver hosted the event in 2010.
The new Calgary 2026 Chair is very active in Calgary’s sports and arts community, and he was previously employed as an investment banker for Goldman, Sachs & Co. in New York and San Francisco.
Federal and Provincial partners, along with the city, will pitch in a combined CDN $30 million to fund the bid, including almost $6.5 million sunk costs that have been spent during the exploratory period.
“Calgary City Council is very pleased to have Mr. Hutcheson take on this role as the Calgary 2026 Board Chair,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said of the appointment.
“He understands the opportunities and challenges ahead of us and is an excellent representative of Calgarians and our wider community.
“Of course, there are still many questions left to answer before we decide to submit a bid. With a Board Chair in place, we can confidently engage in thoughtful public discussion and deliberation.”
“At the end of the day, it is not up to me to make a decision as to whether this community wants the Olympics or not,” Hutcheson added, referring to roadblocks that lay ahead.
Calgary’s bid needs to be approved by city council and a with a city-wide plebiscite that will likely take place in November, and could face international competition from as many as six other countries.
Canada’s strongest competition, the Swiss bid from Sion that’s already two years in development, could drop out of the picture as early as this Sunday when voters across the Valais Canton vote on whether to approve CHF 100 million (Swiss Francs) of funding required by the project. Recent polls show that as many as 58 percent oppose the bid, and without a majority approval Sion’s Olympic dream will end.
Bids from Stockholm in Sweden, and among Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan or Turin in Italy are still seeking elusive government support for their campaigns. Opponents have collected over 90 percent of the signatures required to force a referendum over a bid from Graz in Austria.
Sapporo in Japan is considering delaying its bid until 2030 when needed transportation infrastructure will be delivered. Erzurum’s bid from Turkey is moving forward despite security fears due to its proximity to the Syrian border.
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) will choose qualified candidates to become applicants early in October and a winning city will be elected 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.