"Does Calgary really want the Winter Olympics? Does anyone?" That's the question posed by the New York Times on Monday, and it looks like the first question has just been answered. The AP reports that, in a nonbinding referendum held Tuesday, 56% of voters (more than 170,000 in all) in the city that hosted the 1988 Olympics gave the thumbs-down to a repeat in 2026. Over on the City Council, a good number of the board's members had already expressed similarly lukewarm feelings on the Alberta city's bid, and that puts the International Olympic Committee in somewhat of a spot, as it now only has two iffy bids in: from Sweden's Stockholm and a shared proposal from Milan and Cortina d'Ampezzo in Italy. A handful of other cities nixed their bids, or had their bids rejected, earlier this year.
In his piece for the Times, Michael Powell explains that cities vying to host are often plagued by various roadblocks that can make the bids untenable, including financing obstacles, environmental issues, and even the risk of corruption and violence in the poorer parts of metropolitan areas. The Canadian Olympic Committee isn't happy with the Calgary vote, saying in a statement, per the AP: "This would have been a unique opportunity for Canadians to be leaders in fulfilling the promise of a renewed vision for the Games." The Calgary City Council is expected to get more into the vote on Monday, but the AP notes "there is little doubt the bid seems dead." the BBC agrees council will likely respect the voters' will. The IOC will make its final pick in June. (Not as many people are even watching the Olympics.)