Calgary Bid Exploration Committee says 'yes' 2026 Olympics are feasible
Rick Hanson said CBEC's role was to get the facts so that Calgary could move forward with a bid decision with "eyes wide open"
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With the ball in the International Olympic Committee’s court, Calgary’s politicos haven’t yet said yes to hosting the 2026 Winter Games.
On Monday, the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee advised council there weren’t enough answers in the equation to solve what’s plagued many a mind: should, or should we not host another Olympics.
Because of an announcement earlier this month by the International Olympic Committee in terms of time lines, new Host City Requirements and candidatures processes – and the promise to help Calgary continue to cut costs – all could sway the city's decisions on the Olympics and change some of CBEC's initial assumptions.
And now council, and the committee are looking to the IOC for answers that could change the fabric of work CBEC has already put into their report.
“At the end of the day you have to start negotiating conversations from the position of respect and good faith,” said CBEC chair Rick Hanson. “Right now, we’ve got good faith. We’ve got the belief that they want to see successful bids come forward, and I think that when they come and look at our numbers…and they can see these are legitimate numbers, the ball is in their court.”
There have been hints that partnering with other cities, like Whistler for a ski jump, or Edmonton for a stadium, wouldn’t be outside of the realm of possibility.
Tricia Smith, who is president of the Canadian Olympic Committee and recently appointed to the IOC, said despite some councillor scepticism, she’s seen a change in the international group.
“They extended the period, not because they weren’t organized,” Smith said. “They see this as an opportunity for every city to look at an Olympic bid and see what makes sense for their city.”
Ultimately, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said if the province or the federal government aren’t also buying an Olympic dream, the Games won’t be for Calgary.
“I suspect it will be relatively easy for the federal government to fit this into their existing framework,” Nenshi said. “The provincial government will really have to get their heads around it.”
Coun. Sean Chu's proposal to let Calgarians weigh in on an Olympic bid in a plebiscite was defeated 13-2. Councillors said they couldn't expect to pass on the difficult decision to residents.
Smith said Calgary would do a terrific job at hosting another Winter Games because it has shown what it can do in the past with the Games in 88, resiliency in floods and the city’s “can do attitude.”
“We see the pride Calgary has, and the pride Albertans have,” Smith said.