Calgary named one of three candidate cities for 2026 Olympics

Click to play video 'Division over Calgary’s bid for 2026 Olympics' Division over Calgary’s bid for 2026 Olympics
WATCH: Division over Calgary's bid for 2026 Olympics – Oct 8, 2018

The cities of Calgary and Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Cortina D’Ampezzo and Milan were given the green light on Thursday to proceed to bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, but Turkey’s Erzurum was dropped, the International Olympic Committee said.

The IOC Executive Board decided on the recommendation during a meeting earlier on Thursday and this will now be ratified by the IOC session in the next days.

READ MORE: Calgary 2026 Olympic bid public engagement process starts Monday

“Calgary presents a very solid concept,” IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch said in Buenos Aires. “Eighty per cent or more of the facilities are already built. Some of them might need some permanent works.”

“They did the Games so many years ago, in 1988, so we are very confident in that candidacy.”

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“We weren’t expecting to hear that news until early next week,” Calgary Ward 8 Coun. Evan Woolley said on Thursday.

“Obviously, they’re looking to get a sense of the serious bids that can move forward.”

Woolley, also chair of city council’s Olympic committee, said being named one of the final three candidate cities for the 2026 Winter Games is a reflection on all of the work the city and the Calgary 2026 bidco has done to date.

“We are remaining primarily focused on delivering the plebiscite, engaging with Calgarians around their thoughts, concerns, ideas and opportunities, as well as negotiating that multi-party agreement. That remains our focus for the time being. Obviously, this is positive news — that we’ve made this shortlist — and I think it’s a reflection of all of the hard work that we’ve undertaken.”

READ MORE: Calgary 2026 Olympic bid public engagement process starts Monday

With just three bids remaining to host the Games in eight years’ time, Woolley hoped that would lead the IOC to be willing to contribute more than the nearly $1 billion to Calgary as a successful host.

“While they have put a number out there, that number I hope, in the negotiations will move. I would assume and would hope that our negotiating teams, as that pool gets smaller, that strengthens our negotiating position.

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“That said, there is still both Stockholm and Italy — strong competitors — and we’re taking nothing for granted.”

READ MORE: Calgary mayor asks integrity commissioner to investigate Olympic bid costs leak

Woolley said work is still being done to secure funding amounts from federal and provincial governments.

“We’re continuing to work super, super hard both on our own multi-party agreement negotiations… And remembering that, ultimately, it will be Calgarians who decide whether we go forward on this bid.”

READ MORE: Some councillors concerned Olympic funding details won’t meet timelines

Samaranch said the Stockholm bid “takes full advantage of concepts in Agenda 2020,” while Milan-Cortina had the support of the two cities and had recent experience hosting the Olympics.

The Ezurum, Turkey, bid was “a little challenging in some of those technical aspects in transportation, in telecommunications, in airports, etc.,” Samaranch said.

READ MORE: Be careful comparing 2010 Olympics cost to Calgary 2026: Vancouver CEO

The three cities are the last of initially seven candidates with Swiss city Sion, Japan’s Sapporo and Graz in Austria pulling out in recent months, scared off by the cost and size as well as local opposition to the big event.

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The IOC will elect the winning bid at its session in September 2019.

with files from Aurelio Perri and Reuters