Calgary urged to wait for more details before deciding on 2026 Olympic bid

CALGARY — The city of Calgary is being urged to wait for more details from the International Olympic Committee before deciding whether to bid for the 2026 Games.

A 17-member bid exploration group has concluded that the city that held the 1988 Winter Olympics could do so again, but recommends Calgary take more time to determine whether it’s a good idea.

The bid committee wants more details from the IOC on what support it could provide in helping reduce operational costs as well as what its host city requirements will be.

When the committee was formed, it was expecting a September deadline for Calgary to decide on a bid.

But the IOC has extended the invitation phase for 2026 bids, so the city has another year to mull it over.

Committee chair Rick Hanson told councillors they have the gift of time and it would be prudent to take advantage of that and get all the information they can.

“We didn’t feel that we should rush to a conclusion or any kind of recommendation without considering all current and relevant facts,” he said during bid discussions at city hall Monday.

“And sometimes these current and relevant facts arrived very late in the game.”

The bid exploration committee told city council last month that the price tag to hold the 2026 Games would be about $4.6 billion. It said the Games would generate almost half that in revenue, but another $2.4 billion would be needed.

The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., cost $7.7 billion.

Calgary’s estimate is lower in part because the city could reuse venues from the 1988 Winter Games.

Sion, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria, are among Calgary’s potential rivals for a 2026 bid.

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said he’s not expecting to see a draft host city contract until after next year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

“So it’s a bit anticlimactic, really. We’ve done all this work to get to this point, but it’s a bit hurry up and wait. And I would imagine that if council says, ‘You know what? We don’t want to do this at all,’ council could make that decision next week,” he said.

“I suspect that council will probably make the decision to say, ‘We’ve done this great work. Let’s put it on the shelf, pens down for a little while. Let’s see what the IOC comes up with.’”

Hanson told city council that IOC officials have been accommodating and have shown interest in the debate in Calgary. He said he would reach out to see whether any IOC representatives can answer councillors’ questions in September.

The committee says it has produced 5,400 pages of analysis and spent thousands of hours. The work came in about $2 million under its $5-million budget.

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