Because so much attention in the U.S. has been focused on the 2024 summer Olympics and the hosting duel between Los Angeles and Paris, it has been easy to forget that other cities are looking to the future – specifically, with an eye to hosting the Winter Games.
Calgary, Alberta, host of the 1988 event, has already thrown its ski hat into the ring for 2026. It has also noted (pay attention, other potential host cities) that a survey from the Calgary Bid Exploration Committee (CBEC) has revealed nearly two thirds of the 1,949 respondents were in favor of the city’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games.
In other words, it already made sure it won’t face the embarrassment shared by cities like Boston and Hannover when they had to back away from the bargaining table because of a lack of support from residents.
According to an article in Inside The Games, the survey, given to residents of Calgary, Canmore, Banff and Cochrane, showed 32 percent “strongly supported” a bid, while the same number simply noted they supported the idea. A total of 17 percent were opposed, eight percent of which were characterized as being strongly against the idea. (Another four percent said they were not sure and 15 percent responded that they were indifferent.)
As with many cities who have recently been given the choice of hosting (or not), there were key concerns. Transportation and housing, economic health and government finances and debt levels were among those that featured repeatedly in the survey. Calgary has estimated the cost of hosting to be $46 billion.
Calgary’s chances of hosting the Games certainly are good, at least as far as some sports are concerned; the city was recently selected to host the 2021 International Luge Federation World Championships.
Other cities also have indicated an interest in 2026, including Innsbruck, Austria (however, a referendum will decide whether residents are in favor).
Trivia point: Innsbruck’s referendum reveals the way the times have changed; in 1972, Denver (which had been named the host of the Winter Games for 1976) held the first-ever referendum regarding hosting, and resoundingly defeated the measure. The IOC found itself in the unenviable position of having to scramble for a host. Innsbruck stepped in (without a referendum) since as a Games site from just a few years back, it still had venues available.
Ezurum, Turkey; Sion, Switzerland and Sapporo, Japan (which hosted in 1972) are also considering bids for 2026. Stockholm, Sweden, has also indicated an interest; however, issues with funding and political disagreements about hosting have led many to think its chances are less than robust.