City of Calgary votes against hosting 2026 Winter Olympics
Though many can only dream of the Olympics coming to their hometown, citizens in Calgary voted a loud ‘No’ against the municipality’s plan to make a bid on the 2026 Games.
Calgary has an Olympic history, having hosted the Winter Games thirty years ago in 1988. This vote, however, saw more than 56% of voters saying no to the possibility of it happening again, according to Reuters. The city also consistently ranks in top tiers for liveability on a global scale.
“After witnessing a high turnout, with more than 304,000 ballots cast in a reflection of the interest in the poll, the unofficial results had 132,832 opting ‘For’ and 171,750 ‘Against’ Calgary making a bid to host the Games.”
The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has seen interest in hosting Games fall over recent years as governments reject the rising costs associated with producing the multi-sport event.
Calgary’s ‘No’ vote leaves only two nations – Sweden (Stockholm) and Italy (Milan, Cortina d’Ampezzo) – in the running for the Games.
Other withdrawals from the bidding came earlier this year. Municipalities in Switzerland, Japan, and Austria all removed themselves from the race, while a city in Turkey was eliminated from the process by the IOC.
“It comes as no surprise following the political discussions and uncertainties right up until the last few days,” said an IOC statement. “We understand the disappointment of all those involved in the candidature… who fought so hard for the Olympic project.”
“It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympic Games did not sway the vote.
"We will continue our cooperation with Milan/Cortina d’Amprezzo and Stockholm in order to ensure the best possible host for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”
The Calgary vote was non-binding but was intended to reflect the voice of the city’s people. Calgary’s 15-member city council is expected to respect the majority’s rejection of the 2026 Games bid.
The Canada Olympic Committee (COC) and Calgary 2026 both acknowledged that “the people had spoken.”
“We know that this was very divisive, but it’s time to put that behind us,” said Calgary bid chief Mary Moran to supporters.
“This all began with great promise: a chance to bring the Olympics and Paralympics home to Calgary and Canada.
“A chance to re-establish our city on the world stage – put us back on the map… It all made sense, and it still makes sense.”
The Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation reportedly spent $10 million on its campaign for the Games, but could not ward off the naysayers.
Citing high unemployment and a dwindling oil boom, the opposition was anxious to stop the bid as important city spending could be used for more pressing social issues.
The estimated cost to host the games in Calgary was $5.1 billion, but the city already has about 85% of the needed venues in place. Opponents still argue the costs outweigh the benefits.
“I think that people had enough of the establishment, telling us what to do, what to think,” said Sean Chu, councillor. “They tell you to spend millions, billions, it’s good for you.”
The COC believes Calgary missed out on a “unique opportunity”.
“The [COC] respects the results of tonight’s plebiscite in Calgary, but we are disappointed with the outcome … The opportunity to welcome the world to Canada, where people can experience the uniting power of the Games and within our nation’s culture of peace and inclusion, would have offered countless benefits to all.”
Beijing is next to host the Winter Games in 2022.