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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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Stockholm 2026 Winter Olympic bid in trouble

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STOCKHOLM (AP) — Stockholm’s bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics is at risk only three days after the IOC formally approved the city among three candidates.

A new coalition deal announced Friday to run Stockholm’s city government, between a center-right alliance and environmentalists, requires no taxpayer funding for a Winter Games.

“The starting point for all our parties has been to ensure that a Winter Olympics should not be on the taxpayers to pay for it,” coalition member Karin Ernlund said.

The International Olympic Committee said Friday it had “not yet had any official confirmation of the decision.”

If Stockholm drops out, the IOC will be left with Calgary, Canada, and the combined Italian bid of Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo.

A vote of IOC members is scheduled in June, the Olympic body said Tuesday when formalizing the 2026 contest, though there is uncertainty for the entire field.

Calgary’s bid faces a Nov. 13 referendum, and full government support is also not guaranteed in Italy.

Amid widespread public concern at Olympic hosting costs, IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. said this week: “We have to make a huge effort in explaining ourselves better.”

Stockholm could return for a bid for 2030 or beyond, city lawmakers said.

“It is missing a clear basis for a Winter Olympics right now,” said Anna Konig Jerlmyr of Sweden’s Moderate party, “but everyone wants to have it in the future so the question is when.”

Stockholm’s bid plan has nearly half the medal events at least two hours outside of the city.

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

Stockholm hosted the 1912 Summer Olympics and equestrian events for the 1956 Melbourne Games. Sweden owns the second-most winter medals of any nation yet to host a Winter Games, behind Finland.

Between 1984 and 2002, Swedish bids finished second or third in every Winter Olympic host vote (Gothenburg 1984, Falun 1988, Falun 1992, Ostersund 1994, Ostersund 1998 and Ostersund 2002).

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IOC board nominates three bids for 2026 Winter Olympics; Turkey dropped

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Calgary, Stockholm and a Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo bid from Italy are the three proposed finalists for the 2026 Winter Olympic host, which will be chosen by IOC members next year.

The IOC executive board nominated those three bids to be confirmed by IOC members next week while a fourth bid — Erzurum, Turkey — was not recommended.

Bids from Austria, Japan and Switzerland were dropped earlier this year. The remaining three bids each face challenges on the road to the 2019 IOC members vote.

Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, faces a public vote on the bid on Nov. 13. If Calgary does get the 2026 Winter Games, it could hurt a possible 2030 U.S. bid from Denver, Salt Lake City or Reno-Tahoe as North America has never hosted back-to-back Summer or Winter Games.

Stockholm had its 2022 Winter Games bid dropped due to lack of political and financial support. The bid was revived for 2026, declared dead by Swedish politicians in April 2017, but kept alive by the Swedish Olympic Committee. As with the 2022 bid, Alpine events are slated for Åre, about 350 miles north. Sliding events could be in Latvia, 300 miles across the Baltic Sea.

The Italian bid has been in recent flux. Torino, which held the 2006 Winter Games, dropped from the multi-city bid in September. Rome bids for the 2020 and 2024 Olympics were dropped due to lack of financial support and political concerns.

IOC vice president Juan Antonio Samaranch said Turkey, which had never bid for a Winter Olympics nor hosted a Summer or Winter Games, lacked winter sports experience.

“The level of investment needed for general infrastructure including accommodation, transport, energy, telecom, is very, very high. It’s very, very high to the point that we believe it can be done. It certainly can be done, but probably it’s going to be easier if they have more time to do it,” he said. “Start organizing events from the international winter [sports] federations, start continuing in that line, continue to invest, maybe even Youth [Olympic] Games at one point in time.”

The IOC’s 2026 evaluation group report analysis of each bid:

Calgary
The city breathes the legacy of the 1988 Games and can make optimal use of existing venues for 2026. Calgary boasts valuable experience and expertise in hosting winter sports competitions and other major events. The city, the province and its people have a deep love and affinity for winter sports. In dialogue and partnership with the IOC, Calgary has developed a Games concept and vision that fit the new era of Olympic Agenda 2020/New Norm and meet the city’s long-term goals.

Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo
Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo combine the advantages of a big European city and those of a popular mountain resort region in the Italian Alps. The candidature benefits from the region’s strong winter sports history, tradition and experience, as well as the Italians’ love and passion for sport. The project can also leverage the economic strength and prosperity of the northern Italian region. While planning is still at an early stage, the project has the potential to achieve the long-term goals of the cities and the region in line with Olympic Agenda 2020/New Norm.

Stockholm
A modern global capital with a historic city centre, Stockholm proposes venues in the heart of the city that would elevate and energize the Games experience. Sweden has the hosting experience, love for winter sports and established World Cup venues necessary for delivering the Games. In line with Olympic Agenda 2020/New Norm, Stockholm has developed a Games concept that addresses the city’s future needs and aims to improve the lives of all its citizens.

Erzurum
The timing for 2026 is challenging. The concentration of investment in general infrastructure such as accommodation, transport, energy and telecoms would be extremely high. Significant investment would also be needed in sports venues. The region has limited experience in hosting major international winter sports events and would benefit from organising further World Cups, World Championships and the Youth Olympic Games.

Erzurum nevertheless presents great promise for the long-term future, having an ambitious vision of developing a young and vibrant university city into a winter sports centre. Erzurum can take advantage of national government plans and funding to develop the city into a major hub.

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