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Mayor says abandoning Calgary Olympic bid would be ‘remarkably short-sighted’

Calgary city council is set to vote on whether to continue exploring a potential 2026 Olympic bid on Monday, April 16. Reid Fiest/Global News

Calgary’s mayor said Thursday it would be a mistake to vote against continuing exploration into a potential 2026 Winter Olympic bid.

“It would have been great if this process had gone way smoother,” Mayor Naheed Nenshi said. “But focusing there instead of focusing on what we’re trying to achieve and whether or not we can get there, I think is remarkably short-sighted.”

Speaking at a media conference and responding to a poll commissioned by Ski Jumping Canada, Nenshi said Calgarians and Albertans appear to support a potential Olympic bid.

LISTEN BELOW: Where does council stand on the Olympic bid?

READ MORE: Council to hold vote Monday to gauge support for exploration of 2026 Olympic bid

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“It’s easy, when you’re sitting around the council table, to go, ‘Oh, I’m being courageous by speaking for my constituents,’ or, ‘There’s this huge groundswell of opposition’ – which clearly, from this poll, doesn’t exist at all,” he said.

The poll in question found that 55 per cent of Calgarians felt their city should bid on the Olympics and that 62 per cent of Albertans were in favour of a potential Olympic bid.

Nenshi also had some words for those who’ve said an Olympic bid is a done deal.

“If this were a done deal,” he quipped, “give me some credit for knowing how to do my job.”

WATCH BELOW: Any hopes for Calgary’s Olympic bid hanging on by a thread

Click to play video: 'Any hopes for Calgary’s Olympic bid hanging on by a thread' Any hopes for Calgary’s Olympic bid hanging on by a thread
Any hopes for Calgary’s Olympic bid hanging on by a thread – Apr 10, 2018

READ MORE: Purple haze hangs over Calgary city council on Olympic funding questions

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The mayor said there are steps he could have taken to make the path to an Olympic bid easier for council, including making the previous council bid outright on a potential bid.

He said council could have also required that a super majority be mandatory to overturn any resolution on the topic.

“What this is really about is determining whether or not there’s a good dream here,” he said.

“If we together cannot arm wrestle the federal government, the IOC, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and private investors into a real investment in Calgary… [I’ll] say, ‘Guys, we’ve got to stop before we spend any more money on this.’”

Nenshi said the decision to put this issue to a vote yet again is a political one.

READ MORE: Evidence should trump emotion in Calgary Olympic bid talks: Mayor Nenshi

“A couple members of council thought that at this moment enough of their colleagues are irritated that they might be able to get to eight (votes).”

900 Albertans aged 18 and over were surveyed for the poll prepared by Janet Brown Opinion research. The margin of error is plus or minus 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

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-With files from 770 CHQR’s Aurelio Perri

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