Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Athletes Mobilize, Tell Calgary Not to Bail on a Bid for 2026 Winter Games

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Athletes Mobilize, Tell Calgary Not to Bail on a Bid for 2026 Winter Games

Article excerpt

Athletes tell Calgary not to give up on bid

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CALGARY - Sensing a Calgary bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games is about to die, some Canadian athletes have mobilized to keep it alive.

About 50 active and retired athletes held a news conference Friday at Canada Olympic Park urging city council not to quit on a bid before all the facts are known and the financial picture is clear.

Many of them were Olympians and Paralympians from Calgary, or who moved to Calgary, and built their careers on the legacy of the 1988 Winter Olympics in the city.

They're organizing a campaign of letters, texts and social media messages to councillors in advance of the vote.

"Keep exploring the bid and not just shut it down before there's more information," two-time Olympic speedskater Gilmore Junio pleaded.

Councillors are expected to vote early next week on whether to continue work on a potential bid. A slate of recommendations that kept a bid on the table barely passed last month with an 8-6 vote.

The Alberta and Canadian governments have committed to financially supporting a bid corporation. A bid is estimated to cost $30 million.

The provincial government wants Calgary to hold a plebiscite measuring interest in hosting another Winter Games.

But some city councillors are frustrated by what they say is a lack of information and clarity around the process.

A city bid project team took over the work of the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, which estimated the cost of the games at $4.6 billion.

The International Olympic Committee said in January it would give US$925 million to the 2026 host city.

The IOC's deadline to submit a bid is January 2019. The winning city will be announced in September 2019.

Calgary has already spent $6 million investigating and analyzing what a bid might look like.

"The city has already said they're interested in the games," former luger Jeff Christie pointed out. "They've committed resources to it and the whole picture hasn't been presented yet.

"Council is confused. I get it. Let's not be confused and just stop. Let's finish the process, understand and see if this is an economically responsible games to potentially bid for. …

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