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Unofficial results not what 'yes' side hoped for in 2026 Olympic plebiscite

Last Updated Nov 14, 2018 at 8:11 am MDT

YESCalgary2026 pin. Photo by Ian Campbell.

The 'yes' side is now one step closer to getting what they have campaigned for.

Thousands of votes in the 2026 Olympic Plebiscite vote on Tuesday, Calgarians showed immense support for the 'yes' side.

CALGARY (660 NEWS and CITYNEWS) – The ‘yes’ side didn’t get the result they were campaigning for, that Calgary move ahead with a potential 2026 Olympic bid. This after tens of thousands of votes were tallied in the 2026 Olympic Plebiscite vote Tuesday.

“I’m not sure that I would agree with the assertion that something went wrong in the campaign, because ultimately it’s about listening to the people, and the best campaign in the world is not smarter than the wisdom of the people,” said Mayor Naheed Nenshi, who was in support of the ‘yes’ side. “And ultimately if this is what the people said in a democracy the people are always right.”

BidCo had said in its months-long campaign Calgary would not see the financial injection from other parties the Federal and Provincial governments, Canmore, and the International Olympic Committee without hosting an Olympics and that the burden, stress, and risks the city would be taking on to do so can be justified.

The ‘yes’ side has argued that without the Olympics, Calgary’s sport legacy from the ’88 games would fade away and the city would not to be able to foster healthy living and provide sports and recreation programs to the extent it would be able to with a second Olympics under its belt.

BidCo CEO Mary Moran addressed the crowd after the loss saying the BidCo team really wanted the Olympic dream for Calgary to come true. “We knew we did it well in ’88, we knew that Vancouver did it great in 2010 and we knew that we could do it better in 2026. But we shouldn’t give up,” she said.

“We’ve learned so much about our community. We’ve learned so much about each other. And we need to embrace the energy through that dialogue and discussion we had and we need to make Calgary a better place again.”

Moran went on to say “thank you is not enough” to express her gratitude for everyone’s hard work. Others on the yes side, like Olympian Gilmore Junio, are expressing their sadness on Twitter. 

“Shared an unbelievable moment with the late Frank King’s daughter, Linda. To have had the privilege to express my gratitude to the King family for giving me a legacy to build my dreams goes beyond words. He saw a brighter future for Calgary, I’ll keep some faith too,” wrote Junio.

WinSport’s Dale Oviatt tweeted he was “speechless” and  “disappointed”.

“Respect and thank every single person who voted today. Democracy reigns. A perfect storm of negativity and confusion. I believe Calgary loses in the long run but…it is what it is!” tweeted women’s hockey mogul Hayley Wickenheiser.

“This is a sad night for our community and we are extremely disappointed. The plan presented by the BidCo @YYCGames2026 was strong, based on many years and levels of expertise. Thank you to those in @TownofCanmore who supported the vision of the 2026 Games opportunity,” tweeted @YES2026CAN.

A release from the Canadian Olympic Committee reads, “The Canadian Olympic Committee respects the results of tonight’s plebiscite in Calgary, but we are disappointed with the outcome. The opportunity to welcome the world to Canada, where people can experience the uniting power of the Games and within our nation’s culture of peace and inclusion, would have offered countless benefits to all. This would have been a unique opportunity for Canadians to be leaders in fulfilling the promise of a renewed vision for the Games.”

Meanwhile the International Olympic Committee (IOC) also chimed in on the results, issuing this statement:

“The IOC takes note of the decision regarding the candidature of Calgary for the Olympic Winter Games 2026. It comes as no surprise following the political discussions and uncertainties right up until the last few days.

We understand the disappointment of all those involved in the candidature, especially the Calgary 2026 Committee, the Canadian athletes, who have so enthusiastically been a driving force behind this project, as well as the representatives of the business community, the Paralympic Movement and the members of the First Nations who fought so hard for the Olympic project. It is disappointing that the arguments about the sporting, social and long-term benefits of hosting the Olympic Games did not sway the vote.

We will continue our cooperation with Milan/Cortina d’Ampezzo and Stockholm in order to ensure the best possible host for the Olympic Winter Games 2026.”


Despite the no vote, Calgary could still go ahead with a bid against Stockholm, Sweden and a joint bid from Milan and Cortina, Italy, which are still in the running.

At the regular meeting of council on Monday, the returning officer will provide council with a report on the official results, and council will determine the next steps. Should council decide to proceed, this bid will be submitted to the International Olympic Committee in January 2019.