Should We Host the 2026 Winter Olympics?

By Sue L. Blanchard.

@PoliticsDirect is eliciting votes from Albertans to gauge popular opinion on whether Calgary should host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. Debate on the issue continues as Calgary Mayor Nenshi and Alberta Premier Notley face opposing views from city councilors and the public.

In April, Premier Notley called for public consultations and a plebiscite saying she would not release money for a bid without a vote to measure public opinion.

Public engagement is underway and a plebiscite is planned for later this year when Calgarians can vote “yes” or “no” to the winter games in 2026, financed by the province and The City of Calgary.

@PoliticsDirect wants to hear your view. Reasons why Albertans are sharply divided over the issue described below. If you know all the facts and are ready to vote, please do so from the www.politicsdirect.ca website.

Should we Host the 2026 Winter Olympics?

Strongly Agree. No limitation on cost or size. The Olympics would be great for the local and provincial economies. New facilities would be great for attracting an increase in tourism and put Calgary on the map as a host for top-level winter events.

Agree. I would be in favor of the Olympics if we put a limitation on costs and if it was held close to account. The costs of bidding for or hosting the games will not put too much of a financial burden on Albertans.

Unsure. I am not sure if my views on this issue are based on fact or emotion. I will leave it up to those who have more knowledge on this issue and support the decision they make.

Disagree. I am not in favor of the Olympic bid because it will likely go over budget and place an unnecessary financial burden on the province moving forward.

Strongly Disagree. Calgary and the province of Alberta should not be making a bid to host the 2026 Olympics under any circumstance. The money spent on making a bid to host the Olympics could be put to much better use in the local and provincial economies as both continue to struggle.

What supporters say about the issue
Supporters say the Olympics are about competition, heroics and national pride. Cities build new facilities and the tourism industry burgeons thanks to a sweeping influx of visitors. Lopez Lomong, who competed in 5000-metre events in summer Olympics believes the games are also about identity. In his 2012 news story for The New York Times he wrote: “As a ‘Lost Boy’ of Sudan, having spent 10 years of my life in a Kenyan refugee camp before coming to America at the age of 16, I felt lost without a country. I never identified with any flag; instead, I was an outcast from a country at war. In 2000, while a refugee, I saw (American sprinter) Michael Johnson run the 400 meters in the Olympics. My world was shaken when he shed a tear during the playing of the national anthem. I realized that he didn’t run for himself or his own glory, but rather represented a country that he was proud of.”

What opposers say
Naysayers believe that host cities invest billions in the games. A report written by the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) last year states that the Olympics could cost $4.6 billion dollars and generate revenues of only $2.2 billion. The Sochi Winter Olympics cost more than $50 billion for the hope of reaping an economic return for the local and national economy through tourism, marketing and other means. In a blog post for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, Colin Craig notes that Olympic officials are bribed to vote for bids. He writes, “Salt Lake Olympic officials gave International Olympic Committee members free credit cards when they came to town, spent $19,991 to take three IOC couples to the 1995 Super Bowl, loaned one member $30,000 to help a friend, and paid for plastic surgery to remove the bags under the eyes of an IOC member…”

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