Calgary votes ‘no’ on 2026 Winter Olympic bid

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Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics is finished, the city’s mayor said, after 56 percent of Tuesday voters were against hosting the Games.

“I was hoping for a ‘yes’ vote tonight,” said Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi, wearing a red Canadian Olympic team shirt late Tuesday. “This is very clear direction where we go from here.”

Nenshi said he anticipates the bid being officially suspended at a Monday city council meeting.

“It’s pretty clear that we saw a clear number,” he said of the 300,000-plus votes in a city of 767,734 eligible voters, though official results aren’t expected until Friday. “We saw a big voter turnout, and, for me, that means I ultimately take my direction from citizens.”

It will leave Stockholm and a joint Cortina d’Ampezzo/Milan bid as finalists. IOC members will vote in June to decide the 2026 Winter Olympic host city.

Calgary, which held the 1988 Winter Olympics, is the fifth city to drop a 2026 bid this year, after those from Austria, Japan, Switzerland and Turkey fell off for varying reasons.

The road to the June vote has been rocky for both remaining bidders. Stockholm faced political opposition for the last two years and isn’t 100 percent to make it to the IOC members vote.

The Swedish plan has all but three medal events in Alpine skiing, freestyle skiing and snowboard in Åre (400 miles northwest of Stockholm), ski jumping and Nordic combined in Falun (140 miles northwest) and bobsled, skeleton and luge in Latvia.

The Italian bid has also been in flux, with 2006 Olympic host Torino dropping from the multi-city effort in September. Rome bids for the 2020 and 2024 Summer Olympics were dropped due to lack of financial support and political concerns.

Calgary bowing out could boost the U.S.’ chances of getting the 2030 Winter Olympics, likely bidding with either Salt Lake City or Denver. North America has never hosted back-to-back Summer or Winter Games. Nenshi said he could not see Calgary trying for 2030.

Calgary’s city council nearly ended the 2026 bid in April and in October. In recent weeks, Canadian Olympic legends like Donovan Bailey and Hayley Wickenheiser and even infamous Calgary 1988 last-place ski jumper Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards rallied to drum up support for the public vote.

A Canadian city has not reached the final voting phase for an Olympics since hosting the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games. Toronto dropped a 2024 Summer Olympic bid. Quebec City showed 2026 bid interest last year before dropping out as well.

“The opportunity to welcome the world to Canada, where people can experience the uniting power of the Games and within our nation’s culture of peace and inclusion, would have offered countless benefits to all,” the Canadian Olympic Committee said in a statement. “This would have been a unique opportunity for Canadians to be leaders in fulfilling the promise of a renewed vision for the Games.”

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