IOC commits hundreds of millions to 2026 host city as Calgary mulls bid

CALGARY — The International Olympic Committee has committed to contributing US$925 million to the host city of the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Calgary is among the cities mulling a bid. Stockholm and Sapporo, Japan are seriously interested while Erzurum, Turkey, Graz, Austria and a joint bid from cities in Italy are also in play.

The IOC published its host city contract Monday with measures designed to save a Winter Games host city $500 million and a Summer Games host city $1 billion.

Among the 118 measures are maximizing use of existing venues and infrastructure, a streamlined games delivery approach, enhanced integration with Paralympic Games and a “clearer allocation of IOC-paid services.”

Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics and the legacy venues provide the foundation for another potential bid.

A Calgary bid corporation, Calgary 2026, was established last month with former national-team skier and commercial real estate entrepreneur Scott Hutcheson as chair and hockey player Hayley Wickenheiser as vice chair.

Hutcheson says the IOC’s host city contract, and the financial commitment, is in line with the reforms the organization committed to back in 2014 under the banner of Agenda 2020.

“It’s the IOC committing in advance what they intend to do,” Hutcheson said Monday. “As opposed to creating uncertainty, they create certainty, which is consistent with the credibility and sustainability model.”

A Calgary Bid Exploration Committee estimated the cost of Calgary hosting the 2026 Winter Games at $4.6 billion with games revenues covering almost half the cost.

That figure is under review, however. The price tag of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., was about $7.7 billion.

The deadline to bid for the 2026 Games is January and the host city will be announced in September 2019.

The host city contract released Monday applies to 2026 bidders as well as previously elected hosts for the 2024 Summer Games (Paris) and 2028 Games (Los Angeles), the IOC said in a statement.

“We are enabling the organization of games that will be sustainable and create lasting legacies for their citizens, while also reducing complexity and costs,” IOC Olympic Games executive director Christophe Dubi said in the statement.

A lack of candidate cities bidding for the 2022 Winter Games — Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan were the only finalists — prompted the IOC to reform its bidding and hosting processes in an effort to make hosting cheaper and more sustainable.

“They want us to use existing structures or temporary structures and don’t spend for the sake of spending, or create beautiful structures that are not meaningful over the long terms for sustainability,” Hutcheson explained.

“There’s an effort to have more transparency in governance and accountability and credibility and human rights and athlete experience.

“Measures like that are all the sorts of measures you would hope the games are embracing today as opposed to what some say in the past was the tone.”

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