In 1988 Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics. The Canadian city overcame competition from Falun in Sweden and the northern Italian town of Cortina for the right to host the games. Some thirty years later, Calgary once again wants to host the Games. This time it must overcome obstacles at the home, the most obvious being the local taxpayer.
In order for the bid by Calgary to continue, local taxpayers are going to the polls next week in order to decide if some $2.8 billion dollars of public money should be used to fund the Games.
Canadians are better placed that most when it comes to such questions. The 1976 Summer Games in Montreal is a classic example of a spending overrun. The Olympic Stadium cost more than 5 and a half times the original estimate and ended up with an outlay of around $1.4 billion. The legacy of this meant that Canadian's were still incurring the financing cost of the stadium until 2006. Somebody born in 1977 (the year after the Games), assuming they began paying taxes at 18 years of age, contributed for 11 years for a Games that haven't occurred in their lifetime.
This time around it is somewhat different, and locals will get the chance to decide whether they should continue with the bid. It is interesting to note that in recent years Olso, Kraków, Lviv, Stockholm, Graz, Sapporo and Sion have all withdrawn Winter Olympic bids. Stockholm, having withdrawn from the 2020 race will also vote on a bid for 2026. Quite aptly for Calgary, Cortina has also expressed an interest in bidding, and like the Swedes and Canadians', will put the bid to a public vote.
It will be very interesting to see the outcome of next week's vote in Calgary. Should the vote pass, and the city be selected by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) as the preferred host, many things will happen. Hosting the Games will bring a sense of pride and civic engagement. Many locals will be excited in the lead up to the event, and the hosting of the Games themselves may cause the general mood to heighten further. One thing that won't happen -the taxpayer in Calgary will not make money from the event.