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  • Calgary Takes Next Step Toward 2026 Winter Games Bid


    (ATR) The city of Calgary has formed an exploratory committee to evaluate the feasibility of a bid to bring a Winter Olympics return in 2026.
    Calgary's Saddledome (Getty Images)

    Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi announced the membership and governance of the newly formed Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) which will analyze costs, benefits and the feasibility of the western Canadian city hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

    Former police chief and politician Rick Hanson will lead the group of 17 volunteers, which includes the chair of WADA’s athletes commission Beckie Scott, her fellow Canadian Olympian Catriona Le May Doan and Paralympian Patrick Jarvis, an IPC governing board member.

    “Our goal is to collect all the best possible information, in collaboration with the community, to see if it makes good sense to bid on the 2026 games,” Hanson said. “Once we present our findings to City Council, Council will make a decision to proceed with an Olympic and Paralympic bid or not.

    “Our success as a committee is not whether we move forward with a bid or not,” the former Calgary police chief added. “It will be whether council has enough good quality information to make an informed decision that will benefit Calgarians.”

    Following a presentation from the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) in June, city council voted to allocate Can$5 million (US$3.78 million) for studying ways and means of bringing the Winter Games back to Canada. The members and governance of the study group were announced on Monday.

    Nenshi made a personal trip to the Rio Games, where he says he spoke to an IOC member “who is very much in charge of candidature cities at the IOC” about a Calgary bid “and how that might be viewed by the IOC,” he told the Globe and Mail.

    Calgary 1988 opening ceremony (Getty Images)
    “The message we’ve been getting is…if you have to build a ton of infrastructure, that will actually count against you whereas in the past ‘look, we’re building shiny new infrastructure’ would have been something in your favor,” the mayor said.

    “We’ve very well-positioned that way, but as I say over and over again, it has to be based on evidence. I remain, though an Olympic fan, a bit of a skeptic on whether this thing really works. The numbers have to be bullet-proof.”

    Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, while Vancouver did the same in 2010.

    In its pitch to council, the CSTA estimated a price tag of Can$5.3 billion (US$4.02 billion) to host the 2026 Winter Games, which would be less than the Can$7.7 billion (US$5.84 billion) of the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

    Hanson and the newly established committee will create a Master Hosting Plan, which will provide an analysis of the capital and operating costs for hosting the Games that maximizes the use of existing and potentially required facilities, determining the level of investment required from the three branches of government, and assessing other costs for hosting the Games.

    The Committee will provide an interim report to City Council and Calgarians in January 2017 and a final report by July 2017.

    Calgary leaders must indicate to the International Olympic Committee their intent to bid for 2026 by September 2017. The winning bid will be selected in 2019.

    Written by Brian Pinelli

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