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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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IOC group proposes Olympic ‘host’ can be multiple countries

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International Olympic Committee members will decide next month whether to tweak the definition of an Olympic host to make it clear that it does not necessarily refer to a single city but can also mean multiple cities, regions and even countries, IOC President Thomas Bach said Wednesday.

“It’s not an encouragement to spread the Games out as much as possible,” Bach said in announcing the IOC’s executive board approved the measure. “It may be preferable to have a region as a signatory or an additional signatory of the host city contract rather than just a city, and therefore, we wanted to enjoy this flexibility. This, on the other hand, does not change our vision, our request and our focus on having not only an Olympic Village, but to have an Olympic center.”

It’s one of six proposed changes by a working group chaired by Australian IOC member John Coates to examine the bid process. Another is to make the timing of Olympic host city elections more flexible. Typically, hosts are elected seven years before the Games, though two years ago an exception was made in the double awarding of the 2024 and 2028 Games to Paris and Los Angeles.

Bach repeated that the proposals are “to avoid producing too many losers as we had it in the past candidature procedures.”

The IOC previously said in 2014, in announcing Agenda 2020, that it “will allow events held outside the host city or, in exceptional cases, outside the host country, notably for reasons of geography and sustainability.”

This shift manifests in Stockholm’s 2026 Winter Olympic bid plan to have sliding sports in Sigulda, Latvia, home of the nearest existing track for bobsled, luge and skeleton, rather than building a costly new track in Sweden.

IOC members will vote to choose the 2026 Winter Games host next month. The finalists are Stockholm and a joint Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo, after five other potential candidates were dropped for various reasons.

There is precedent for events held far from the Olympic host city. In 1956, Melbourne held the Summer Games and had equestrian events in Stockholm due to quarantine laws in Australia. Similarly, equestrian at the 2008 Beijing Games was held in Hong Kong.

Soccer matches are often held in cities across the host country. Recent Winter Olympics have had mountain events in a different city or area than arena events.

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IOC board recommends AIBA suspension, boxing stays in Olympics

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The International Olympic Committee executive board recommended that AIBA has its recognition as boxing’s international federation suspended but that the sport remains on the Olympic program at the 2020 Tokyo Games.

An IOC decision on the recommendation will be made next month. The IOC created a group to organize 2020 Olympic boxing qualifying and competition if AIBA will not be allowed to run it.

“We want to ensure that the athletes can live their dream and participate in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 while drawing the necessary consequences for AIBA,” IOC president Thomas Bach said in a press release. “At the same time, we offer a pathway back to lifting the suspension, but there needs to be further fundamental change.”

The IOC said in October that boxing’s place in the Olympics was “under threat” after being introduced at the 1904 St. Louis Games and held at every Games since except Stockholm 1912.

In November, the IOC ordered an inquiry into AIBA, which has been in financial turmoil, faced claims of fixed bouts at the Rio Games and elected a president linked to organized crime.

That president, Uzbek Gafur Rakhimov, stepped aside in March to let an interim leader take charge but said he was not resigning. Rakhimov is on a U.S. Treasury Department sanctions list for suspected links to an organized crime group in former Soviet Union republics involved in heroin trafficking. He denies any wrongdoing.

“Serious governance issues remain, including breaches of the Olympic Charter and the IOC Code of Ethics regarding good governance and ethics, leading to serious reputational, legal and financial risks for the IOC, the Olympic Movement and its stakeholders,” the inquiry committee concluded. “AIBA has been unable to demonstrate a sustainable and fair management of refereeing and judging processes and decisions, increasing the lack of confidence that athletes can have in fair competitions.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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