International Olympic Committee visits Calgary as city eyes possible 2026 Games bid

Click to play video: 'City of Calgary hosts meeting with International Olympic Committee' City of Calgary hosts meeting with International Olympic Committee
WATCH: The International Olympic Committee met with Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi and councillors during their first visit to a bidding city. Doug Vaessen has the details of the meeting – Jan 17, 2018

Members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) are travelling to Calgary this week to meet with city officials looking into a possible bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.

During the tour, officials will visit the city’s legacy winter sports facilities from 1988.

They will also learn about the vision for a possible bid, along with event planning, transportation and security plans.

READ MORE: Sports economist throws cold water on new arena, Olympic bid for Calgary

Previously, the IOC has sent a candidature committee to bidding cities, at the city’s cost, but did not provide feedback or support.

This is the first time this new approach has occurred, as international cities worry about hosting the Olympics because of the rising costs of putting on the Games.

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“Now, the IOC will meet interested cities at the IOC’s cost in advance of a bid, and will provide resources and support to help cities develop stronger bids,” the city said in a statement Tuesday.

Kyle Ripley, with Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC), said IOC officials are paying for their entire trip to Calgary, which is the opposite of how it’s been historically for interested cities.

“They’re paying their own way here, they’re paying for their hotels, they’re paying for their transportation, they’re paying for the meeting room, they’re paying for any meals that are required. They’re paying the entire way both for themselves and for us,” Ripley said.

“Now what we’re seeing is the IOC willing to share their knowledge, share their information for cities to develop a bid that is relevant and contextual for their city.”

That’s a welcomed change for city officials.

“It’s about time they paid their own bills,” Ward 12 councillor Shane Keating said. “That’s part of the change our city and Calgary is implementing. We’re not footing the bill and we’re not changing and we’re not spending billions of dollars because you want to have a great event.”

“It’s meant to get rid of the wining and dining… it’s meant to get rid of the sense that you can buy an Olympic games,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said.

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The Calgary Olympic project team will provide an update to council later in January on the next steps towards a bid.

READ MORE: $4.6B price tag for Calgary to host 2026 Winter Olympic Games

The CBEC has estimated the cost of hosting the Winter Games at $4.6 billion. The IOC will invite cities to bid in October 2018 and the deadline is January 2019.

“[We’ll show them] what we propose for a broadcast centre, we’ll be looking at where we’re proposing for our athletes and media housing, we’ll be looking at rinks and tracks and sliding tracks and halfpipes and everything,” Ripley said.

“They’re encouraging cities to not build new facilities. They want to utilize existing facilities and encouraging to look at facilities that are outside of the city, the province and even outside of the country if need be.”

It’s also expected the city will send a small team to the Olympics in South Korea when they begin on Feb. 9.

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With files from The Canadian Press

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