I checked out one of the public engagement sessions on whether Calgary should bid for the 2026 Olympic Winter Games put on by the Bidco.
It was… interesting.
An informal show of hands at the beginning of the presentation revealed most of the 100 or so people in attendance supported Calgary’s Olympic bid. There were also several people planning to vote “no” and a few in the undecided camp.
Bidco CEO Mary Moran walked the audience through a wide range of issues.
Topping the list was a breakdown of the much-debated $5.2-billion price tag. Moran said she’s confident of the numbers and they include a cushion for “unexpected” developments. Cost overruns remain the biggest concern for most of the “no” people I talked to who don’t believe those numbers are firm. While Moran certainly highlighted the benefits for Calgary, including revamped and new Olympic facilities, I appreciated that she didn’t brush over potential risks.
There was a Q-and-A session after the presentation and one of the most interesting questions came from an admitted “Yes” supporter. A woman talked about the elephant in the room — the International Olympic Committee — who many believe to be corrupt and out of touch with the real world.
“Should Calgary jump into bed with this group?” was asked.
The answer from the Bidco? Something along the lines that the IOC is changing and Calgary can take advantage of that.
I was looking for something a little stronger.
If I decide to vote “No” to the Olympic bid, my dislike of the IOC will be the biggest reason.
Sure there’s a lot of talk about how they’ve changed when it comes to helping potential host cities on the cost of a games, but it’s how they treat the cheaters that boils my blood.
Russia flat-out scammed the world in Sochi in 2014 and was caught red handed. To this day they deny any wrongdoing.
The fact Russian athletes were able to compete in South Korea earlier this year, even without waving their flag, is nothing short of shameful. The recent IOC decision to reinstate the Russian Olympic doping committee is another joke.
Please, spend a couple of hours watching the Academy Award winning documentary Icarus if you want to learn more.
After the presentation I interviewed two Calgarians who came out to hear the pitch.
Gary Silberg is in the “No” camp, Cindy Browning is a “Yes” supporter. Both felt they learned more from attending the Open House, but there was nothing in it to change their views.
Here’s my conversation with them both:
So, just a few weeks away from the November 13th plebiscite and I remain a soft “Yes.”
I’m still hopeful that the final funding numbers will be something manageable and my heart truly believes Calgary needs something to get excited about.
Is this the ticket? Maybe.
But I’m still waiting for a “Wow” moment to seal the deal for me.