Calgary won’t make bid, yet, for 2026 Winter Olympics
Calgary’s city administration says a decision should not be made on bidding for the 2026 Winter Games until the costs of doing so are better understood.
A report highlighting some of the unanswered questions surrounding a potential bid is going before this week’s council meeting.
It echoes a bid exploration committee’s conclusion last week that it’s feasible for the 1988 Olympics host city to have another turn, but it can’t say yet whether it would be prudent.
Municipal bureaucrats say right now it’s impossible to predict the risks of a bid.
Some of the unknowns include details of the 2026 bid process, what is in the yet-to-be-released host city contract and how other orders of government and the International Olympic Committee may be able help offset the costs.
The administrators’ report also raises concerns about the city exceeding an appropriate level of debt if it were to move forward with a bid.
They are recommending the city consult with the Canadian Olympic Committee and the bid exploration committee to work out next steps.
“While administration remains skeptical, we are willing to keep an open mind as there appears to be suggestions that mitigating strategies to these financial concerns and risks may be available,” the city report said.
The 17-member bid exploration group chaired by former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson had been expecting a September deadline for Calgary to decide on a bid.
But the IOC has since extended the invitation phase for 2026 bids, meaning the city has another year to mull it over.
Hanson said last week it’s reasonable to expect the city will have the information it needs by early next year.
The bid exploration committee told city council last month that the price tag to hold the 2026 Games would be about $4.6 billion. It said the Games would generate almost half that in revenue, but another $2.4 billion would be needed.
The 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C., cost $7.7 billion.
Calgary’s estimate is lower in part because the city could reuse venues from the 1988 Winter Games.
Sion, Switzerland, and Innsbruck, Austria, are among Calgary’s potential rivals for a 2026 bid.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi has said he’s not expecting to see a draft host city contract until after next year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea.