Calgarians came to their senses on November, voting against the City of Calgary’s bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
And it is a good thing that they did as no city in Canada should host another Olympics event, summer or winter.
Not that the Calgary plebiscite wasn’t close. The overall vote was 56.4 per cent against and 43.6 per cent in favour.
Still, the message should go out that Canada is ‘Olympic’-ed out and that other nations and their big cities can embrace the financial, infrastructure and public relations commitments if they so wish.
Nor am I pleased that Premier Rachel Notley would have ponied up $700 million of Albertans’ tax money if the bid was successful. And it wasn’t appropriate for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to offer $1.5 billion of Canadian taxpayers’ money for the same purpose.
Taxpayers’ money should not be used to pay for a sports spectacle like the Olympics. If a city or municipality wants to attract that sort of event, then encourage the private sector to foot the entire bill. Given that big sports names like Nike acquire athelets’ endorsements for their products, if they have the deep pockets for that, then let them pay the entire bill for the Olympics.
The issue of taxpayers’ money aside, why does Calgary need to host another Winter Olympics? Was the event in 1988 not enough?
Maybe Calgarians don’t feel it, but I’m sure many other Canadians feel Olympics fatigue. We’ve had 6 Olympics in North America over the last 40 years.
The Summer Olympics in Montreal in 1976.
The Summer Olympics in Los Angeles in 1984.
The Winter Olympics in Calgary in 1988.
The Summer Olympics in Atlanta in 1996.
The Winter Olympics in Utah in 2002.
The Winter Olympics in Vancouver in 2012.
So, is six times not enough to host the Olympics in North America?
However, given its obsession with the Winter Olympics, if the City of Calgary wants to host this event every 25 or 30 years, then it had better acquire private sector money each year in the lead up to the bidding process.
I’m not saying that Canada and Canadian cities shouldn’t host sporting events. Red Deer is set to host the Canada Winter Games in February 2019 and they have several impressive sports facilities that would not have been possible without large investments of money.
My hometown of Kamloops, B.C. hosted the Canada Summer Games in 1993 and it was able to build a large swimming pool to host that event, thanks to financial investments.
Moreover, municipalities across the province take turns hosting the Alberta Summer and Winter Games, which create a sense of true sportsmanship and camaraderie between the hosts and the athletes.
So I am not against small, high-profile sports events being held with taxpayers’ backing. But I am against taxpayers’ money being used for big events like the Olympics. Let the private sector foot the bill for those. Pure and simple.