After 26 years, Calgarians still carry a torch for the Olympics

Twenty-six years after the Olympic flame lit the sky here, Calgarians still carry a torch for the Winter Olympics.

A survey by The Press at several Calgary shopping malls Feb. 5, two days before the start of the Sochi Olympics, showed that 86 per cent of those questioned said they would like to see the Games return to the city some day.

Eleven per cent of those interviewed were opposed to the return of the Olympics, primarily because of the cost, while a couple of people indicated they didn’t care.

Kristen Abel, 23, owner of the school of freestyle soccer, said he would be happy to see the Olympics in Calgary once again.

“Definitely it would be awesome to host the Olympics to place Calgary on the world map.

“Through the Olympics, we can make our lives even better.

“We can attract more tourists to the city which is good for the financial part,” said Abel.

Another Calgarian, Paul Roberge, who witnessed the Olympics in Calgary in 1988, said that the city is almost ready now to host the Games again.

“We have everything from the past Olympics, and all we need is to update our facilities,” said Roberge.

“Sochi was created from zero and our experience could be our advantage in the race to win this chance.”

Young people interviewed seemed particularly keen on seeing the Olympics in Calgary, considering that it would have a great impact on the city’s lifestyle.

“There is lots of money and I’m pretty sure we can afford it,” said Annyssa Lukfury, a Grade 10 student at Henry Wise Wood High School.

A volunteer at Alberta Health Services, Meghan Johns, thinks that fast-growing oil industry, great facilities and Canadian spirit could bring the Olympic dream to Calgary.

“We’re the number one economy in Canada, and obviously we’re one of the top cities in the world, so why not?

“We’re almost ready, just give us this chance,” said Johns.

Other people, however, fear it might ruin the city’s economy.

“It’s another reason to get into taxpayers’ pockets,” said Chris Soltos. “We can spend the money on to more important things than the Olympics.

“Our economy is still pretty weak and the costs of the Olympics will ruin it in a short period,” said Soltos.

Nelly Bent, who works at Southcentre, was one of those who answered, “Don’t care.”

“I mean it’s good, but do we really need to host such a big event?

“Lots of people will support me that we can spend the billions of dollars on our real needs,” said Bent.

Russia has spent more than $50 billion to stage the Sochi Olympics, while the price tag for the Calgary Games was $830 million, nearly half of which was covered by TV rights payments.

Canada’s Olympic committee has the final say on which cities will get to bid on particular Games, and the consensus has been that the next serious bid will be for the Summer Olympics, and that Toronto would be the most likely city to seek to hold it.

Toronto initially entered a bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic Games but a city committee voted to stop the process, due to the cost.

The accepted view to date on the next Canadian bid for a Winter Games is that it would most likely be made by Quebec City, assuming that city is prepared to move forward.

Kristen Abel: one of the survey participant, owner of the school of freestyle soccer, on Feb. 5, in Chinook Mall. (Photo by Dmitry Kuleshov/The Press)
Kristen Abel: one of the survey participant, owner of the school of freestyle soccer, on Feb. 5, in Chinook Mall. (Photo by Dmitry Kuleshov/The Press)
About Dmitriy Kuleshov 3 Articles
As a writing and communications major in the journalism program at SAIT, Dmitriy Kuleshov worked as a reporter for The Press during the 2013-2014 academic year.