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Olympic visit gives Calgary mayor more comfort with bidding process as city considers 2026 games


Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi says he knows the answer to the question, “Could Calgary host another games?”

“We always knew the answer was yes, but being here, the answer is yes, yes, yes!,” Nenshi told Global News in South Korea.

“We absolutely have the ability to do it, but the second more important question is should we? And should we now?”

Those answers aren’t as clear, but Nenshi says meetings with the International Olympic Committee and organizing members have helped build a stronger relationship that will lead to a better informed decisions on a bid.

“I am actually feeling extremely comfortable that they (IOC) are serious, that they are honest about wanting to reform, about making these changes. So, that’s really helping me get a lot more comfortable.”

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Provincial and federal officials also participated in the visit.

The city now has until the end of June to make a decision about making a formal bid.

Some on city council worry that Calgary is too far down the bidding road to pull out, and that ultimately taxpayers will be left with a big bill.

It’s estimated it could cost $4.6 billion to host the games, as it plans to re-use facilities from the 1988 Olympics.

Changes announced last week by the IOC mean requirements will be relaxed for cities for future games.

WATCH: The 2026 Winter Olympics would cost Calgary $4.6 billion to host

Rob Livingstone with GamesBids.com has covered Olympics bids for decades and said he sees genuine willingness from the IOC to make the process more transparent.

“They’re trying to build a relationship right now and trying to see if it’s going to work. If it doesn’t they split up,” Livingstone said.

But he also said that where in the past a bid city had to court the IOC, now it’s the opposite.

“There’s an opportunity, more so I think for the IOC, because they really need a host city, and the other options are questionable at this point. Calgary is do-able, definitely,” he explained.

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Officials from Sapporo, Japan, Stockholm, Sweden and Sion, Switzerland are considering a bid, and are also in South Korea observing these games.

But for fans like Debbie and Gord Jonas from Edmonton, who spent a lot of money to be in Pyeongchang, they say it’s time for Canada to host the competitions again, even if there is a cost.

“Marketing is about spending money to do better for everybody, not just one, it’s for Albertans, for the Olympians,” Debbie Jonas said.

Her husband Gord agreed.

“Just think of all the money that is created by the world coming in.”

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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