Whistler venues could see 2026 Olympic action

Calgary is looking to cut down on costs

Whistler could see Olympic athletes on its ski hills once again for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

Calgary, one of the cities in the running to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is considering using venues from the 2010 Winter Games to cut down on costs.

An Olympic bid could cost Calgary up to $30 million.

Calgary was the host city of the 1988 Winter Olympics.

The International Olympic Committee’s executive director of Olympic Games was pleased Calgary didn’t bow out of 2026 on Monday.

“I’m extremely happy that the council came to that decision,” Christophe Dubi told The Canadian Press from South Korea. “Calgary has got tremendous assets to bid. You hosted the Games already so you have a number of venues that are there.

“You have tremendous capabilities to host in Canada. You have very good expertise in Games organization. You also have the support of the population for winter sport in general. It’s a die-hard sport-loving nation. I think you have all the raw materials to do something extraordinary.”

The IOC will invite cities to bid in October, 2018 and the deadline is January, 2019.

A project team of city staff and consultants took over the work of the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, which estimated the cost of hosting the Winter Games at $4.6 billion.

Calgary wants a deeper dive into five areas before it greenlights a bid: capital costs; security; operating costs; finances; financial guarantees.

Council gave $5 million for CBEC to conduct its research. CBEC’s work came in $1.5 million under budget and those savings were passed onto the project team.

The money approved Monday will be used to prepare Calgary to make a successful bid if the city decides to go ahead, and lay the groundwork for a bid corporation should city council decide early next year to form one.

“This $2 million we’re asked to spend, or $1 million until the province and the feds are in, is a risk,” Nenshi acknowledged.

“We may end up not bidding or there is a small possibility that we bid and we lose the bid, but are we willing to take that risk to do something that could be incredibly special for Calgary.”

Council also voted to study venues outside of Calgary as a cost-saving measure, which could mean using Edmonton’s facilities or incorporating venues from the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and Whistler, B.C.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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