Opinion: Alberta should avoid paying into the 2026 Olympics altogether

Opinion: Alberta should avoid paying into the 2026 Olympics altogether

The IOC should be the one to pay for Calgary’s Olympics if it’s that worth it

Calgary and Alberta need to pull out of the 2026 Winter Olympics bid.

What a total and utter waste of money with high risks and even higher maintenance costs (current and long-term). When one considers a project in the billions of dollars (that’s nine zeros), with a tiny chance of making millions in profit (that’s six zeros), the risks surely outweigh the costs.

The province’s recent proposal to front $700 million for Calgary to host the Olympics (pending a majority vote in support from the Nov. 13 plebiscite in the city) is ill-advised and an insult to everyone in the province.

Taxpayers should not be on the hook for an event that brings in billions of dollars in advertising revenue to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), while all the risks go to the host city. If it’s such a great benefit to the province then maybe the IOC should be the one to pay, and not just the possible $925 million it recently promised.

Albertans’ $700 million could go a long way to helping Alberta communities hurt by a struggling economy, and a carbon levy to boot. The additional burden of wasting money on the international games is hard to fathom.

Considering all the rural communities that have major infrastructure debts, aging arenas or public facilities, the province would be better to invest that money into its own communities. Indeed, a health and wellness fund — to be directed to recreation projects — of $700 million pumped into the province would actually get people exercising instead of sitting on their couches watching the games.

While I enjoy sports, and feel the Olympics in Calgary would be an incredible event for families to attend, the risks outweigh the benefits. The current estimate for Calgary to host the Olympics is $5.23 billion ($5,230,000,000); that’s a lot of zeros. That number is not going to go down. Hidden costs, tens and hundreds of millions of dollars in infrastructure needs, along with security, are among the many other issues that Albertans are going to have to pay for.

A winter games event in Calgary 2026 is not a great idea. Indeed, all the potential city hosts should put a stop to this waste and force the IOC to reconsider its operations.

Sure, it’ll be a great source of pride and will bring ‘Canadians together’. But that rhetoric is starting to get old and there are much better ways to bring this country together.

Maybe the IOC should be the one to construct multi-billion facilities in one location (for summer and winter games) with support from countries around the world. Those countries could provide the money upfront with fixed, low-interest loans to the IOC, which would be expected to pay the money back over a 16 year period.

In the meantime, the IOC should pay for athletes’ full time training (it’s a full time job even though they’re considered amateurs), remove options for sponsorship, pay for their travel and house and feed them and provide athlete supports. They could call it “City of Olympians” and it could have a mayor (plus all the infrastructure costs associated with large facilities). But the risks to build the “City of Olympians” would have to fall to the IOC.

The organization has made enough on the backs of countries’ taxpayers. It’s time to pony up.


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