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Calgary Olympic bid survives vote, more hurdles remain

Calgary Saddledome

CALGARY, AB - OCTOBER 6: A general view of the exterior of the Scotiabank Saddledome with the Calgary skyline behind prior to the Flames’ home opening NHL game against the Vancouver Canucks during at Scotiabank Saddledome on October 6, 2013 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Derek Leung/Getty Images)

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Calgary’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid survived a city council vote, 9-6, to move forward on Monday, but another vote is expected in June and a public vote could be held as early as October, according to Canadian media.

Two council members reportedly changed their positions to support the vote to keep it alive.

“A lot of people have been saying, oh, it’s so expensive, it’s going to triple Calgary’s debut,” Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “Well, if that were the case, we wouldn’t do it. ... It’s going to be frugal.”

Nenshi reportedly said the bid was “a bit in the ditch” last week.

“The question is, is it worth pulling it out of the ditch or not, and I think it is,” Nenshi said last Tuesday, according to the Canadian Press. “It’s not a good time to take the off-ramp. Give us until June to see the money, and then we can take the off-ramp if the money doesn’t work.

“I think it would be a real shame for council to not to try to pull this thing out of the ditch between now and June.”

Council members voted 9-1 last Tuesday to hold Monday’s vote.

Calgary is one of seven sites pursuing 2026 Olympic bids through a dialogue phase with the IOC. The others: Graz, Austria; Milan/Torino/Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy; Sapporo, Japan; Stockholm, Sweden; Sion, Switzerland and Erzurum, Turkey.

The IOC will then choose candidate cities from that list in October to run through the September 2019 members vote on the 2026 Olympic host city.

Calgary hosted the 1988 Winter Games that included the first Jamaican bobsled team and the Battle of the Brians and the Battle of the Carmens in figure skating.

If the Calgary bid happens, it could see Nordic combined and ski jumping at the Vancouver 2010 venue in Whistler, B.C., more than 500 miles west of Calgary.

If Calgary gets the 2026 Winter Games, it could hurt a potential 2030 U.S. bid from Denver, Reno-Tahoe or Salt Lake City since the IOC has never awarded back-to-back Summer or Winter Games to North America (though a Summer Games in North America has been followed by a Winter Games in North America in 1976/1980 and 1984/1988.)

Canada has not bid for an Olympics since hosting the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Toronto dropped a 2024 Summer Olympic bid. Quebec City showed 2026 bid interest last year before dropping out as well.

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MORE: A look at the 7 potential 2026 Olympic bids