Suppose they want to thrown an Olympics and no one wants it?
November 13 is fast approaching and, in a way, it might be the day that sports organizers and sports owners are dreading. Calgary voters will go to the polls, in a non-binding referendum, and decide if they want to help fund the Calgary 2026 Winter Olympics bid. Sports operators, such as the International Olympic Committee, now dread public votes. Sports operators don’t win a lot of them anymore and the International Olympic Committee frowns on having the public decide whether to spend money on the IOC’s glitzy sports affairs. The Calgary vote is extremely important for the IOC. It may be the last hope the Swiss-based sports organization has in finding a place where it can stage the 2026 Winter Olympics. The IOC has had doors slammed in its face twice in its home country, Switzerland along with Austria by voters. Other potential bidders have dropped out. There are three countries still in the 2026 race, Canada with the Calgary bid, Italy and Sweden. It appears the Sweden and Italy bids are on life support.
Stockholm’s new city government is not supporting the Olympics bid. Italy’s national government is not putting up any money for a combined Milan and Cortina entry in the Olympics race. That will leave local Olympics bid committees without access to government money. Government money is a sports lifeline. Sports and governments have been in partnerships for decades and in some cases, sports debt has been ruinous for countries or cities that have put up money for sports events. The Olympics has a long history of taking local money for its events and then leaving town with a less than impressive Games legacy that includes lingering and crippling debt to pay off the bills incurred by the Olympics and deserted venues or venues that are knocked down after the Games. Calgary voters can force Olympics bidding to change.