Calgarians want another taste of Winter Olympic glory

Calgarians still want another taste of Winter Olympic glory, a new Press survey shows.

But the numbers are down a bit from two years ago.

An informal inquiry conducted by SAIT Journalism Students in the first week of February this year showed a solid majority of city residents support the idea of Calgary bidding to host the 2026 Olympics.

Of the 37 residents questioned on city streets and malls, 29 said that Calgary should host the 2026 Olympics, four said no to the bid, and a further four said they were undecided.

Asked if they would attend the Olympics if they came to Calgary again, the answer was a resounding yes, with 36 saying they would buy tickets and just one indicating they would give the event a pass.

The 78.3 per cent in favour in the survey was less than the 86 per cent in favour in a similar survey conducted two years ago by The Press. The earlier inquiry was done as the world gathered in Sochi, Russia for the last Winter Games.

Eleven per cent of those interviewed in the 2014 survey were opposed to the return of the Olympics, primarily because of the cost, while a couple of people indicated they didn’t care.

The new results, which are obviously not scientific, were gathered as a committee struck by Calgary city council studies the feasibility of making a bid for the 2026 Olympics.

That committee is expected to tender its final report in June. If the panel comes out in favour of a bid, the city would then have to win the support of the Canadian Olympic Association, and then the International Olympic Committee before the dream could become reality.

Calgary is currently the only Canadian city in the running to host the 2026 games.

The city welcomed the world to the Winter Olympics in 1988. That games was the last Olympics to break even financially, costing just over $1 billion in 2015 dollars.

Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010, at a cost of $2.5 billion. It was just the second time a Canadian city has staged the games.

The coming 2018 Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, is estimated to cost $12 billion. Beijing will host the Winter Games in 2022.

Chris Alexander, a local supporter, told reporters this month that the games would be great for lifting the stature of the city.

“It brings a lot of culture,” said Alexander. “Vancouver was unreal for the people, the community and the economy.

“It was pretty amazing to experience.”

Michael Nugent, also for, said that while travelling, people he met knew of Calgary because of its Olympic history.

“A number of times, when I am talking to people, and they ask me where I am from, they knew of Calgary and the Olympics back in ’88,” said Nugent.

“It’s been very complimentary.”

While Nugent would like the Olympics to come to Calgary, he did express concerns about the possible costs to the city.

“The expense has to be looked at, for sure, but the nice thing about Calgary is its facilities,” said Nugent. “They can probably be upgraded at a reasonable cost.”

This same sentiment was held by many of those surveyed, including Natalie Fleury.

“The infrastructure is here to be able to do it successfully without investing all the money,” said Fleury.

“We should be able to actually drive a profit from it.”

On the other side, the driving factor to not wanting Calgary to bid was the potential cost of the events.

“It’s just the fact that so much money is spent on it,” said Jean Nugent.

Nugent also didn’t like the fact that the Olympics have been increasingly using professional athletes in events like golf and hockey.

“[the Olympics] is still not supporting the real amateur athletes as it did before.”

When questioned, those surveyed worried that, on top of the price to host being too high, the returns wouldn’t make it economically viable.

“I think the Olympics have a history of the host city not doing well once the advertising is over, “ said Marcus Vespa, a concerned Calgary resident.

“I don’t feel that the return will be there.”

The pride left over from Calgary hosting the 1988 Winter Olympics was fully evident when talking to local Calgarians who had attended the event.

Jean Kilcolm, who attended the ski jumping events in ’88, was very excited for a new bid, based off of Calgary’s success the previous time around.

The infrastructure is here to be able to do it successfully without investing all the money. – Natalie Fleury

They did a brilliant job,” said Kilcolm. “I don’t know if any Olympics since have made money, but Calgary broke even.

“It was all done very pragmatically. If they do that again I would support it.”



About Mohamed Gandour, Deborah Mebude and Justin Schellenberg 1 Article
As writing and communications majors in the journalism program at SAIT, Mohamed Gandour, Deborah Mebude and Justin Schellenberg are working as reporters for The Press during the 2016-17 academic year.