Calgary Exploring a Potential Bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games

Calgary, AB – yesterday, Calgary City Council accepted a recommendation from the Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) to form a Bid Exploration Committee to explore the feasibility of Calgary hosting the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games.

“Calgarians embrace the Olympic values and live the Olympic spirit. We believe that Calgary has the potential to be a strong and natural contender to repeat as host of the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi. “However, there are lots of hard questions that must be answered so we can make an informed decision about whether or not Calgarians, as a community, want to bid for the games.”

According to an independent third party study commissioned by the CSTA, the 2026 Games have the potential to add approximately $3.7 billion in GDP to the Alberta economy, $2.6 billion of additional labour income, and the creation of approximately 40,000 jobs for Albertans.

“We believe this is an opportunity to sustain and grow Calgary’s capacity as a world-class sport hub, grow our economy, create jobs, and provide a global showcase for Calgary’s arts and culture community,” said Doug Mitchell, chair of the CSTA. “It would be an honour to pass the torch of Olympic civic pride and legacy to a new generation of Calgarians.”

Calgary City Council authorized up to $5 million from the City’s fiscal sustainability reserve to conduct a feasibility study on hosting the games. The study, called a Bid Exploration, will result in a Master Hosting Plan, which will focus on maximizing the use of existing facilities. The plan will also provide a detailed analysis of the capital and operating costs for hosting the games and the level of investment required from the three orders of government.

The Bid Exploration will also result in the development of a long-term renewal plan for Calgary’s 1988 legacy facilities regardless of whether an Olympic bid is undertaken. It will provide valuable information on the investment required to upgrade Calgary’s legacy facilities. The 1988 legacy facilities are nearly thirty years old and will require investment in order for Calgary to maintain its competitive edge as a world-class leader in the sport development industry.

The Bid Exploration Committee membership and governance structure will be announced in August 2016. The Committee will report back to council with its interim findings in January and April 2017 and will provide its final report to Council by July 2017.


CSTA logoThe Calgary Sport Tourism Authority (CSTA) was established in 2005 and is a collaboration of community leaders in sport, business and government who are mandated to provide advice, due diligence and strategic direction in attracting major sport event opportunities to Calgary. The CSTA was recognized in the Calgary Civic Sports Policy as the “authority to provide expertise in bidding to host major sporting events.” The CSTA is committed to establishing Calgary as a premier host of major events and one of the preeminent winter sport cities in the world.

The CSTA is recognized internationally as a model of best practice for attracting and promoting sport tourism. It has a track record of investing in events ranging from amateur competitions to executing the feasibility and bid programs to host national and international events. Some recent examples include: the Canadian Open Volleyball Championship (2015); the PGA Shaw Charity Classic (2013); and the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship (2012).


Recently, the CSTA undertook a preliminary review of the scope of work, potential costs and infrastructure required for Calgary to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (OPWG).

This exercise concluded that Calgary is a viable and logical Olympic host city, although there are upgrades to existing sport facilities needed and new facilities required to match the evolution of the Games. Additional work, through an in-depth study, is required to provide Calgary City Council with the information required to determine whether it wants to proceed with a bid for the OPWG. The Bid Exploration will produce a Master Hosting Plan which will maximize the use of existing facilities while contributing to the overall long term sustainability of Sport in Calgary and Canada through targeted upgrades/replacements while providing outstanding facilities for sport during the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

The Bid Exploration will provide information that would assist in the considerations of future infrastructure and sport venue investments and the development of a long-term renewal plan for Calgary’s 1988 legacy facilities regardless of whether an International Olympic Bid is undertaken. Thus, even if City Council decides not to proceed with a bid, the Bid Exploration will provide valuable information on the investment required.


The City of Calgary has endorsed a Bid Exploration for 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and will contribute up to $5 million to support the Bid Exploration Committee in the preparation of the Master Hosting Plan (MHP) and related studies. Such a contribution will include any costs incurred up to $300K by the City Administration to assist the Bid Exploration.

The City’s contribution will be subject to potential offsets that the Bid Exploration Committee (BIDEXCO) may raise through donations and other government contributions.


The recent economic slowdown in Alberta has highlighted that The City of Calgary and the province should identify opportunities to stimulate and develop our economy. The benefits related to bidding for and hosting the OPWG are considerable and have the potential to align closely to the City’s long-term goals.

Economic Opportunity

  • Support Calgary’s Economic Strategy, building on our energy by positioning Calgary as a hub for national and international investment. The media exposure in 2026 is expected to reach over 2.1 billion people.
  • Approximately $3.7 billion in added GDP to the Alberta economy.
  • Approximately $2.6 billion of additional labour income earned in Alberta.
  • The creation and/or support of approximately 40,000 jobs (full-time equivalents) in Alberta.

Sport Development

  • Accelerate sport infrastructure growth and investment by revitalizing facilities and venues for the next generation of world-class and recreational athletes.
  • Forge stronger relationships with national and international sponsors, broadcasters and international sport federations; maintain and enhance Calgary as a leader in the world of sport.

Social Development

  • Reinforce our volunteer ethos and create a shared sense of belonging with a new generation of Calgarians and Albertans.
  • Provide a mechanism for addressing affordable housing challenges in Calgary and the Bow Valley.

Cultural Enrichment

  • Support Calgary’s Arts Development strategy: Living a Creative Life, by providing a global showcase for arts and culture.


In late 2014, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) released Agenda 2020. This is a comprehensive set of recommendations to strengthen the confidence of the public in the Olympic movement. One of the key objectives of Agenda 2020 is to reform the bidding procedure and hosting requirements in order to reduce cost and complexity, and increase transparency and flexibility, for potential bid cities. The reforms to the bidding process reflected in Agenda 2020 make a Calgary bid a significantly more feasible proposition given its emphasis
on reuse of existing venues and sustainable solutions that are aligned with a community’s needs.


Should City Council move forward with the CSTA’s recommendation, a separate Bid Exploration Committee would be formed and commence work on a Bid Exploration and the development of a Master Hosting Plan. The Master Hosting Plan will identify the preferred options for sport venues, athlete and media villages and media facilities required for the Games, in the context of meeting Calgary’s long term legacy requirements.

The project would involve two phases:

Phase 1: Bid Exploration (July, 2016 to September, 2017)

Bid Exploration Committee and governance structure is launched; Bid Exploration and Master Hosting Plan developed; Calgary commences preliminary discussions with Canadian and International Olympic Committee.

  • The Bid Exploration Committee would report back to Administration regularly with updates and report to Council with its findings in January, April and July of 2017.

Phase 2: (Tentative – Based on results of Bid Exploration) International Bid Preparation Phase (September, 2017 – July, 2019).

Should a decision be made to proceed with a Bid, the International Bid Phase runs from September, 2017 to July, 2019.

Olympic Bid Timeline
(click to enlarge)
  • BIDEXCO seeks Council approval to proceed with Domestic bid if a domestic competition exists, April 2017
  • BIDEXCO provides a final report to Council as decision whether to proceed with international bid is required, July 2017


A governance structure for a Bid Exploration Committee has been proposed by the CSTA. The Committee would guide the overall Bid Exploration effort, raise the necessary funds, develop an initial understanding to support the master plan.

The organizational structure will be collaborative and based on governance best practices, and will include the appropriate mix of skill sets and capacity to build and execute on the project.

The proposed Committee structure is illustrated in the following diagram:

Bid Exploration CommitteeRoles and responsibilities

  • Board of Directors: To oversee the core functions of governance and policy approval, major strategy decisions, finance and audit, fundraising and oversight of the master plan development. It is proposed that The City of Calgary and Government of Alberta would have representation on the board.
  • Management Team: It is proposed that a small and dedicated Management Team will oversee the Bid Exploration work and strategy, coordinating finance, administration, fundraising, stakeholder and government engagement functions.
  • Volunteer Working Groups (WG): It is proposed that volunteer working groups will provide advice, assistance and operational support to the Management Team.


An estimate of costs to support the activities of the organization over the next 14 months’ projects expenditures of up to $5 million including the cost of City of Calgary staff working on the Bid Exploration project. This budget assumes significant in-kind support of various organizations.

Olympic Bid Exploration Budget