Calgary Voters Recommend City Abandon Potential 2026 Olympic Bid

(Bloomberg) -- Calgary voters recommended the city abandon a bid to host the 2026 Winter Olympics, as concerns about potential costs outweighed the prospect of an economic boost.

The vote was 56 percent against versus 44 percent in favor, according to unofficial results posted by the city. The vote is non-binding, meaning that the Calgary City Council still needs to vote on whether to suspend work on the bid.

Calgary voters’ rejection of the bid reflects concerns that hosting the games could impose runaway costs on a city already struggling because of a downturn in its bedrock energy industry. While oil prices have rebounded across most of the globe in the past few years, pipeline bottlenecks have weighed on Canadian crude. That has kept Calgary’s unemployment elevated and much of the office space in its downtown core vacant, hurting tax revenue.

If the Calgary City Council follows voters’ recommendation and suspends its bid, that would leave Stockholm and an Italian proposal involving Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo as the two remaining potential suitors for the 2026 games. The International Olympic Committee is scheduled to award the games in September.

Calgary is the latest major city whose citizens have rejected an Olympic bid, including Innsbruck, Austria, a trend that jeopardizes the future of the games in their current form. The IOC has changed the process for how it awards the games and how host cities share revenue, in an attempt to entice more bids.

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