2022 SU General Election Full Supplement

Courtesy S.Yume

Calgary on the right track with 2026 Olympic bid

By Kent Wong, March 22 2016 —

For the past year and a half, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi and a group of community leaders have been discussing a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics. A serious bid for the Games coming to Calgary may happen, but recent financial issues make this far from certain.

This uncertainty isn’t just a Calgary issue. It’s also an Olympic issue — the Games have recently ballooned in costs, with many cities opting to pass on the opportunity for financial reasons.

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia had a budget of $12 billion USD but ended up running over by $51 billion USD — more than all of the past winter games combined.

But Calgary has already proven able to host the Olympics in a fiscally responsible manner. The 1988 games were one of the most financially successful Olympics in history, in part because television rights allowed Calgary to turn a profit.

If Calgary makes a bid, we’ll most likely win. Fewer cities are competing to host the games, with Northern European countries rejecting the 2022 Winter Games bidding in overwhelming numbers. Recently, the 2024 Summer Olympics bid was passed on by over 30 American cities.

Construction costs also wouldn’t be an issue for Calgary. The 2010 games in Vancouver managed a final cost of $1.84 billion, with $603 million in construction. Given
Calgary’s existing infrastructure from the 1988 Games, the biggest construction costs will probably be the CalgaryNEXT stadium and various renovations. But CalgaryNEXT will likely move forward whether or not the Olympics come to town. Costs shouldn’t be a concern, even with the current gloomy economic atmosphere.

And then there’s hockey — a key part of our national sports heritage. Even if sports don’t interest you, hockey remains a significant part of Canadian culture — bringing the sport’s best to Calgary would have a positive impact on our local sports culture.

This is no time to sit on our laurels. Withholding a bid when we’re a great candidate and letting it potentially default to another sea-side resort town would be disgraceful.

Calgary is still a young city, but our identity is blurred. We’re suddenly in the midst of economic uncertainty and many Calgarians are too young to remember the 1988 games. But the remnants remain —  Canada Olympic Park, the Canmore Nordic Centre and the Olympic Oval. Though they’re fading into the past, they’re still functional. These structures and venues have shaped contemporary Calgary, and the Olympics are part of our city’s identity.

Let’s show the world that we as Canadians haven’t forgotten what the Olympics are about — athletics and international hospitality. We can show the rest of the world how it’s done.

Hiring | Staff | Advertising | Contact | PDF version | Archive | Volunteer | SU

The Gauntlet