Calgary 2026 Olympic Bid Hopes Remain Alive As Nenshi Re-elected Mayor

Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games will remain on track for now as incumbent Mayor Naheed Nenshi was re-elected Monday for a third term winning 51.2 percent of the vote.  Nenshi, who was named the best Mayor in the world in 2014 kept nearest rival Bill smith at bay with only 43.9 percent support.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nanshi campaigning for 2017 Election (Nenshi Facebook Photo)
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nanshi campaigning for 2017 Election (Nenshi Facebook Photo)

Nenshi has been a cautious supporter of Calgary’s bid to host the city’s second Games, saying that he’ll be solidly behind plans if they make economic sense for the city.  Smith had the same outlook while some of the other eight candidates would have ended the bid immediately.

Before the bid can move forward from the exploratory phase, it needs support from the City Council.  Until now the group has been split on the the bid but on Monday four new council members among 14 in total were elected, adding a new dynamic to the mix.

Some of the debate centers around the need for a hockey arena, and leveraging a possible new facility proposed for the NHL’s Calgary Flames.  Nenshi said last month that there will be other options for the Olympics, however, including a new facility in Edmonton – and that would help reduce the price tag for the Games.

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

The City Council voted earlier this year not to hold a referendum over a potential bid.

In August, nine of thirteen present Councillors voted to continue investigating the potential bid under a list of five conditions that relate mostly to the financial feasibility of the plans.  In June, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) hinted to organizers that they would introduce ways to reduce the estimated (CAD) $4.6 billion of hosting the Games.  A new bid process, that included cost-cutting measures, was launched last month.

On Sunday Innsbruck’s Olympic dreams ended when over 53 percent of voters rejected plans to bid for the Games.  Other possible rivals Sion and Stockholm have roadblocks that could prevent them from entering the race.  On Monday Salt Lake City launched an exploratory committee that is targeting either a 2026 or 2030 Olympic Winter Games.

The application deadline in March 31, 2018 and the winning city is set to be elected September 2019 in Milan, Italy.

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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