Funding talks stall Calgary's Olympic bid

Calgary is up against Milan and Stockholm for the chance to host the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi had threatened to cancel Calgary's bid if Ottawa did not agree to pay a bigger share of the costs. (REPRESENTATIVE IMAGE)   -  AP

The city of Calgary in western Canada held talks on Monday with provincial and federal governments to help finance its bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, as the mayor's deadline for a deal loomed.

The city at the foot of the Rocky Mountains is up against Milan and Stockholm for the chance to host the Games.

Mayor Naheed Nenshi had threatened to cancel Calgary's bid if Ottawa did not agree to pay a bigger share of the costs.

“The negotiations are still ongoing,” the mayor's office told AFP.

The feds ponied up Can$1.75 billion or about half of the public budget for the Games, but Nenshi and the province of Alberta want Ottawa to increase the amount.

The next hurdle would be a Calgary plebiscite on November 13.

“If we cannot come to a mutually agreeable conclusion by Monday, I deeply regret that I will have no choice but to request that Calgary City Council cancel the plebiscite and thus terminate the bid; an event none of us want,” he told the Calgary Herald.

Calgary previously organised the 1988 Winter Games and so can save on facilities, but new construction will still be needed.

Nyree St-Denis, spokeswoman for the federal sports minister, told AFP 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 Pan American 2015 Games in Toronto.

Nenshi said this was less than Ottawa had originally committed for the Calgary Games, while the Alberta government accused the federal government of negotiating in “bad faith.”

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) is facing a scarcity of applications for the Winter Olympics, with many being scared off by the huge bill for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi.

Several cities that initially expressed interest in hosting the upcoming event, including Sion in Switzerland and Schladming-Graz in Austria, pulled out after tepid support from their local populations.

As the last Canadian city to host the Winter Olympics in 2010, Vancouver lost tens of millions of dollars despite the event costing a relatively modest US$7 billion, when compared to the US$50 billion the Sochi Games cost.