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Colour commentary: Right thing to vote ‘no’ on Calgary Olympics

by Nicholas Di Giovanni November 20, 2018
Colour commentary: Right thing to vote ‘no’ on Calgary Olympics

Hosting an Olympic Games leaves too much debt

On Nov. 13, the citizens of Calgary voted 56 per cent in favour of not bidding for the 2026 Winter Olympics in a vote. On Nov. 19, the city council unanimously voted in favour of ending its push to host the Games.

Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, and citizens simply didn’t want to go through the ordeal again. And good for them. It’s time people start to realize just how expensive it is to host the Olympics, all for some athletes, fans, and media to raid a city for two weeks and forget about it after.

According to Forbes, the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, originally had an estimated cost of USD $12.9 billion. The 2014 Games in Sochi, Russia, had a total cost of USD $51 billion, according to The Guardian. It’s a good thing Calgarians don’t want that kind of debt.

What is really disappointing is how the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) reacted to the results. A spokesperson for the IOC said: “It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympics did not sway the vote.”

Tricia Smith, president of the COC also said this: “Sport in a positive sense really brings a country together.”

Did the IOC and COC seriously just play the “but the Olympics bring people together” card? What’s ridiculous is how they don’t even seem to realize how much they cripple an economy for a sporting event. According to the CBC, after Montreal hosted the Games in 1976, they had a debt of $1.5 billion, which they paid off in 2006—40 years after hosting. That doesn’t seem like the long-term benefit the IOC was talking about. If hosting the Olympics didn’t come with so much debt, sure it would have been great to see Calgary host, but—newsflash—it does.

My favourite headline from this comes from Sportsnet: “Calgary’s ‘No’ vote a squandered opportunity for a city in need.” I didn’t realize Calgary needed billions of dollars of debt.

People who were for hosting the games used the argument that it would have allowed facilities to be built. Many athletic complexes were built in 1988 and need renovating, so they think the only way to do so is by hosting the Olympics. You can upgrade athletic facilities without hosting the Olympics.

More people and cities around the world should realize that hosting the Olympics isn’t all fun and games.

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