Calgary would do 'great job' hosting Olympics, but that's not the question, says Nenshi

Calgary would do 'great job' hosting Olympics, but that's not the question, says Nenshi

Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says even though he's a huge fan of the Olympics, that won't influence whether the city goes ahead with a bid for the 2026 Games.

Nenshi is in Pyeongchang with Alberta's Deputy Premier Sarah Hoffman, Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda and other members of a delegation observing the 2018 Games with an eye to whether Calgary should make a bid.

"My personal feeling? Of course it would be amazing. But my personal feelings don't matter. It's what's right for the city," Nenshi told Olympic Games Primetime host Scott Russell on Sunday night.

"We have to answer two questions: Can we do it? Absolutely, we can do it, and we can do a great job of it. But the more important question right now is should we do it. Is it right for Canada, is it right for Alberta, is it right for Calgary to do it now?"

Nenshi says the city will have to make a decision about that by summer.

In late June, the Canadian Olympic Committee will decide whether to endorse a bid from Calgary.

The next step would be forming a bid corporation that would assemble a formal bid. The IOC's bid process begins in October, Nenshi said.

"If we make a yes decision by June, there's probably one or two more key touch points, including public engagement, talking to citizens, where we could still back out," he said.

"Once you're into the candidature phase in October … I mean, cities have backed out before, but at some point you can't be half pregnant."

It's estimated submitting a bid to the International Olympic Committee could cost $30 million.

The city is hoping for about $10 million from both the federal and provincial governments.

Nenshi says Calgary would need all three levels of government to chip in — as well as the private sector — for Calgary to have a successful Olympic bid.

If Calgary does make a bid, it appears the city will be the lone North American city in the running.

On Friday, the chairman of the U.S. Olympic Committee said there would be no American bid for the 2026 Winter Games, but that the committee would keep its options open for 2030.

Denver and Salt Lake City, which were both eyeing 2026, are now setting their sights on 2030 instead.

Nenshi says a key factor working in favour of a Calgary bid is that the city's facilities leftover from the 1988 Olympics are still largely in good condition.

Top athletes train in Calgary

"In Calgary, we've taken very, very good care of our facilities, our physical legacy, but also our community legacy," he said.

"All of these great Canadians that you see, a huge chunk of them train or do their work in Calgary. We host world cups and world championships, 11 of them a year."

Hoffman told the Calgary Eyeopener Monday that her experience of the Games so far in South Korea is making her nostalgic about he 1988 Winter Games in Calgary.

She said she and the other delegates have been meeting with officials from other countries that have successfully bid for the Games in recent years to get their advice and insight.

"My honest impression is this feels so much like I remember Calgary '88 feeling as a child," she said.

"I think everyone knows the kind of energy you feel when you're at the Olympics. We want to get a good understanding of the economics and the potential benefits for job creation and good economics for the city of Calgary and the province of Alberta as a whole."

Last June, the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee estimated that hosting the 2026 Olympics in Calgary would cost around $4.6 billion.

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