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IOC says Calgary has ‘incredible assets’ in potential 2026 Olympic bid

A young girl learns to skate on the ice at the 1988 Calgary Olympic Plaza on a warm day in Calgary, Alta., Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014.

Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press

The executive director of the International Olympic Committee says cities interested in hosting the 2026 Winter Games have an advantage if they have hosted before.

Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympic games, is one of nine cities considering lone or joint bids.

“You start from incredible assets and a lot of strength in Canada,” said Christophe Dubi in a conference call from Lausanne, Switzerland Tuesday.

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“I won’t be shy to repeat that you have not only the venues but you have the expertise including in the last games that you organized (2010 in Vancouver.)”

Dubi said there is also a built-in advantage for areas that are already international sports destinations.

“We want to use existing infrastructures as much as possible. Whether it was hosting of previous Winter Games or whether this is a region that regularly hosts World Cups, World Championships or other multi-sport events, it’s always better because we can work with that (which) already exists,” Dubi said.

“We don’t need to build.”

Other cities considering bids include Graz, Austria; Stockholm, Sweden; Sapporo, Japan; Erzurum, Turkey; Sion, Switzerland and a joint effort from Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin, Italy. Sapporo, Cortina d’Ampezzo and Turin have all hosted the Olympics before.

The vote is scheduled for September 2019.

The International Olympic Committee has tried to attract more bidders after only two candidates reached the vote for the 2022 Games, which was awarded to Beijing.

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The cost in Calgary of making a formal bid for the Olympics is about $30 million and the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee concluded last year that hosting the 2026 Games would cost $4.6 billion.

The federal and Alberta governments say they will support the formation of a bid corporation but the province says the idea should be put to voters in a plebiscite first.

“We don’t see a problem with this, on the contrary,” said Dubi.

“If there is a public consultation, it has to welcomed. A project of this nature has an impact, hopefully a positive impact, on the lives of the citizen for a long term duration.”

When it comes to paying for the Games, Dubi noted the IOC sets aside a contribution ahead of time which makes up a “significant chunk” of the overall Olympic budget.

But he said those involved must be realistic when working out the numbers.

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“What it takes now is to make sure that the budgets that are being presented are extremely strong, down to the very last detail.”

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