Calgary city urged to nix Canada's Winter Olympic bid

Members of Calgary's bid committee held a closed-door meeting before making the recommendation, which city councillors are expected on Wednesday to vote on.

IOC President Thomas Bach at a press conference in Buenos Aires on October 4.   -  AP

Calgary's Olympic committee recommended on Tuesday that the Canadian city not proceed with its bid to host the 2026 Winter Games after all-night negotiations failed to sway Ottawa to boost its share of funding.

Members of Calgary's bid committee held a closed-door meeting before making the recommendation, which city councillors are expected on Wednesday to vote on.

“There is not a fiscally responsible plan without these funding agreements,” said councillor and chair of the city's Olympic committee Evan Woolley, suggesting the city's share of the costs under the federal formula would place too high of a burden on local residents.

“The clock has run out (on negotiations) and it's time to move on,” he said.

But a federal government source told AFP the talks were continuing and “looking positive,” adding that any suggestions “that it's over are not accurate.”

The committee's recommendations noted that Calgary residents need funding certainty before being asked to vote in a plebiscite on November 13.

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“The full council has to make this decision,” Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

The feds ponied up Can$1.75 billion (US$1.33 billion) or about half of the public budget for the Games, but Nenshi wanted Ottawa to increase the amount.

Federal Sports Minister Kristy Duncan continued to express hope that Calgary would decide to press on with its bid, but held firm on her offer to “match dollar for dollar the contribution of the municipality and province.”

She said the proposed funding is in line with Ottawa's share of the costs to host other major sporting events -- notably the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver and the 2015 Pan American Games in Toronto.

“We will respect the federal hosting policy,” she said.

Should Calgary city councillors now ignore their Olympic bid committee's recommendation and push forward, despite the funding uncertainty, the next hurdle would be the plebiscite on November 13.

Calgary withdrawing its bid would leave only Milan and Stockholm in the running to host the Games.

The host city of the Winter Olympics 2026 will be designated in June 2019 in Lausanne.