'I am much more com­fort­able', but Cal­gary still has to de­cide on Olympic bid: Nen­shi


The board­rooms might be start­ing to blur to­gether as he shut­tles from meet­ing to meet­ing, but Mayor Na­heed Nen­shi said he’s “learned a lot” as his whirl­wind trip to Pyeongchang con­tin­ues as part of Cal­gary’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in an Olympic ob­server pro­gram.

Fol­low­ing a week of meet­ings and tours with the In­ter­na­tional Olympic Com­mit­tee and the lo­cal South Korean or­ga­niz­ing com­mit­tee, Nen­shi said that Cal­gary would host an “out­stand­ing” Win­ter Games in 2026 — if that’s what the city de­cides it wants.

“I’m ab­so­lutely con­vinced that we could do it, and we could do an amaz­ing job at it, and now we still have to ad­dress the ques­tion of should we do it,” Nen­shi told Post­media Mon­day.

A key part of the trip, Nen­shi said, has been ap­prais­ing the IOC’S com­mit­ment to re­form­ing the way Olympic host­ing has been done in the past.

“That was one of the big rea­sons for my trip here, to re­ally look eye­ball to eye­ball with the folks in­volved in the Olympic move­ment to try and un­der­stand that com­mit­ment to re­form a bit better,” Nen­shi said.

“And I am much more com­fort­able now, hav­ing been here, that they are, in fact, en­tirely sin­cere and re­ally, re­ally want the Olympics to change, for the Olympics to be dif­fer­ent, to be more cost-ef­fec­tive, to be more ef­fi­cient, and to not be as much of a bur­den on the host cities and host coun­tries.”

The mayor is joined by mu­nic­i­pal of­fi­cials, as well as of­fi­cials from Can­more, the prov­ince and the Cana­dian Olympic Com­mit­tee in a $135,000 fact-find­ing trip to South Korea. The cost of the trip is be­ing split be­tween dif­fer­ent lev­els of gov­ern­ment, with the lion’s share shoul­dered by Cal­gary.

Nen­shi has toured a num­ber of venues since ar­riv­ing in South Korea. Sun­day, he toured Pyeongchang’s In­ter­na­tional Broad­cast Cen­tre: one of the costli­est com­po­nents of any games, and an area that the Kore­ans and the IOC have tar­geted for cost-cut­ting.

“It re­ally has been about learn­ing more about the new norm and what it’s go­ing to take to host a Win­ter Games in the future, be­cause the 2026 process will be the first one un­der this new process,” Nen­shi said.

“There’s also been some venue tours that have been re­ally in­ter­est­ing. I’m not a tech­ni­cal ex­pert on venues, but it’s been help­ful to see how they’ve clus­tered things and how they man­age their trans­porta­tion.”

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