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Olympics on a dime? That's what the IOC says Calgary could do

International Olympic Committee gives Calgary the lowdown on how to cut costs on the 2026 Games

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director for the International Olympic Committee, speaks to media on Dec. 6, 2017, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

FABRICE COFFRINI / Afp/getty images

Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director for the International Olympic Committee, speaks to media on Dec. 6, 2017, in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Calgary isn’t only allowed to link up with Whistler or other jurisdictions for a bid, they’re encouraged to do so.

Councillors met with International Olympic Committee representatives in Calgary Wednesday morning, while Christophe Dubi, the group’s Olympic Games executive director, teleconferenced in. Mayor Naheed Nenshi was there and gave the IOC a high-level look at how the City of Calgary is engaging its residents about the potential for a 2026 bid.

Coun. Druh Farrell said she was in the meeting with her colleagues and, although still skeptical of a bid, their self-funded meeting in Calgary was reassuring.

“They talked about how fewer cities were bidding and they recognize they need to change,” said Farrell. “That was gratifying, it was reassuring, but again I’m not sure if they’re different or just in trouble.”

She said the discussion with IOC officials, who travelled to Calgary to support the city in its process and tour the city’s facilities, was mostly high-level and she’s still waiting on details about the candidature process, which the IOC promised would come by the end of February.

Later, in a telephone conference with reporters, Dubi laid out how the IOC would be looking to cut costs of the Games. Some of the examples included “right-sizing” temporary venues and not imposing limits or requirements on the size of venues.

“If you go to any event you will see a number of tents; some of them are not fully utilized,” Dubi said. “These are things that seem very mundane, but you cut one Mag and Bag (security) you cut energy, you cut technology, three waves of people attending to the Mag and Bag — you really have to go into the details.”

He said there’s more flexibility in the design of the International Broadcast Centre in terms of how high the ceilings have to be, and where HVAC systems are and aren’t needed.

From the beginning of the candidature process, Dubi said the IOC has told cities they are willing to contribute $925 million US in financial incentives to host.

“This is a number that’s growing because we have success from this standpoint in the past, commercially, and Games after Games organizers receive higher numbers every time and we’re very proud to contribute substantially,” Dubi said.

“We have at present time a number that’s preliminary for the simple reason that we’re renegotiating the top agreements.”

He said final numbers will depend on the negotiations.

When asked if Calgary could host the Olympics without a new arena, Dubi said the answer would lie in the city’s bid package. But he did say that partnering with other Canadian jurisdictions like B.C. for certain events isn’t just allowed, it’s encouraged.

“We are very open to solutions,” Dubi said. “It’s very good news that the vision is to work with Vancouver or Whistler.”

He said it’s one of their first mandates on “Vision 2020,” to use existing infrastructure for a positive and sustainable Olympic legacy.

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