Referendum claims another Olympics victim as Calgarians say no to 2026
Calgary's bid to stage the 2026 winter Olympic Games appears to be over after voters in the Canadian city opposed the campaign in a referendum, the recent scourge of the International Olympic Committee,
More than 56 per cent of voters rejected the idea amid a high turnout yesterday.
Although the vote was non-binding, the city council is expected to respect the result when it meets on Monday.
The Canadian Olympic Committee said it was disappointed but resepcted the outcome, while Mary Moran, chief executive of Calgary 2026, said: "We really wanted this dream for Calgary to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games. We learned so much about our community. We learned so much about each other."
Should city council ratify the referendum outcome, the Swedish capital Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Milan and Cortina D'Ampezzo will be the only candidates vying for the 2026 games, which will be awarded in June.
Recent Olympic bid referenda history is not positive for the bid (and the IOC), with voters typically tending to put what they see as potential funding for schools and hospitals above hosting a two-week sporting event.
In this 2026 bid process alone, Sion in Switzerland and Innsbruck, Austria both withdrew in the wake of referendum defeats, while Austria returned with a bid from Graz, only for it to collapse due to a lack of political support.
Sapporo in Japan also withrew its bid, and is set to focus on 2030, while Erzurum in Turkey was eliminated from the bidding process by the IOC in early October.
In recent years, the likes of Munich, Hamburg, Boston, Rome, Budapest, Oslo, Stockholm and the Grisons region of Switzerland have all seen their summer or winter Olympics hopes dashed by either public votes or political unrest.
The Calgary story The Calgary bid appeared dead as early as the beginning of this month, after its Olympic assessment committee recommended the city scrap the plans over a funding row with the federal and provincial governments. However, councillors subsequently voted by eight votes to seven to end the bid, below the required 10 votes needed to kill it.
Earlier this month, the federal government and government of Alberta province reached agreement to consider a revised funding proposal requiring a total of C$2.88 billion ($2.2 billion) of public funds.
That is short of the original C$3 billion Calgary 2026 said it would need to raise towards the C$5.2-billion budget, but the bid team said it had identified cost savings, without identifying them.
Under the new proposal, the central government’s contribution would have been C$1.423 billion with Alberta providing C$700 million and Calgary C$370 million in cash and C$200 million in insurance redemption to cover a “defined contingency,” while the city and Alberta government would have contributed an additional C$150 million in pre-authorised improvements to Victoria Park and access to the Calgary Stampede grounds.