This past Tuesday, Calgary voted no to hosting the 2026 winter Olympics. Over 300,000 ballots were cast to see whether the public wanted to host the sporting event, with 56.4% of voters declining the opportunity.
Calgary’s Mayor, Naheed Nenshi, said he was disappointed by the results, but went on to quote:
"The people have spoken, the people have spoken in big numbers, and the people have spoken clearly. And this is very clear direction for where we go from here."
The recent vote has not definitively ended Calgary’s chance of hosting the Olympics, as the city council will also cast ballots to decide where they stand on the matter. Nenshi, however, has stated that he expects the council to also vote in favour of ending the Olympic process.
The discussion over whether Calgary should host the winter sporting event has been a topic of debate for the past several months, with NoCalgaryOlympics vocally expressing their opposition to the 2026 competition. Although the votes were close in number, Nenshi denies that the decision for the city will divide the people.
The expected ‘no’ from Calgary has resulted in headline news across the globe; especially in North America and Europe.
Despite the estimated cost of $5.1 billion to host the Olympics, Calgary was supposedly promised $700 million from the province of Alberta and $1.4 billion from Ottawa through Sport Canada. The city was asked to provide $390 million to the total, including $20 million for an insurance policy.
$400 million was offered to the city to be put toward a new field and a 5,000-seat arena. Calgary was also expected to have $500 million invested into 11 already-standing sports facilities to update their appearance.
The opportunity to host the Olympics in Calgary was expected to create over 15,000 jobs. The International Olympic Committee expressed its sympathy for both, the Paralympics and First Nations, who strived for the 2026 games, and issued a statement, quoting:
“It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympic Games did not sway the vote.”
The IOC will begin receiving bids for the 2026 Olympics this coming January, with an expected decision to be made in June 2019. Stockholm, Sweden and a joint bid between Milan and Cortina D’Ampezzo, Italy are the remaining destinations for the winter games.
Calgary was not the first city this year to pull out, as Sapporo, Japan, Sion, Switzerland and Graz, Austria all withdrew from the Olympics. Erzurum, Turkey was eliminated by the IOC earlier this year as well.
Calgary previously hosted the winter Olympics in 1988.