Hannah Burns, head of promotion for Olympic Games and Olympic Candidatures, said the IOC has changed the candidature process to encourage more open dialogue and greater transparency.
Speaking to a sold-out audience of 130 at Calgary’s Edison Centre, Burns said, “We’re taking the time and making sure we work closely with the city.”
Host city contracts have been revised to ensure the IOC is providing more accurate and timely information. “Everything that we’re doing is public for everyone to see. It’s been a brand new process, and a revolution for us.”
Christophe Dubi, Olympic Games executive director, said the IOC has a very clear message for Calgarians: “It’s very important for the IOC to pass on the message that we have turned the page.”
Dubi said the Games will certainly provide a short-term economic boost to the area, and has the potential for long-term benefits. The IOC now looks very closely at how well a city has planned for its legacy from hosting the Games.
“Let’s be very clear,” said Dubi. “The Games will give a boost. But you have to have organized programs well in advance (for ongoing athletic activity). Otherwise, it’s just a spike.”
Vancouver has seen positive economic results in almost every measure, said Dubi. Media value alone was measured at more than $1 billion. Burns cited the creation of local jobs, enhanced image and reputation, and growth in tourism.
Burns said the questions the IOC asks candidate cities are: What is your vision? What is your legacy? What is your plan for sustainability around your infrastructure?
The IOC’s morning appearance, hosted by the Calgary Chamber, was part of a day-long mission to address concerns about the bidding process for the 2026 Games. Scott Hutcheson, chair of the Calgary 2026 board of directors, was one of three panelists answering questions from the audience.
“At the end of the day, any deal we get will be the deal we want,” Hutcheson said after the session. “And the public won’t agree to a done deal until they have a plebiscite.”
Calgary will hold a civic plebiscite in November on whether to bid for the Games. Hutcheson said his committee aims to have a complete financial plan in place before that vote so Calgarians can make an informed choice.
Burns and Dubi said no events will be imposed on a city and there will be constant collaboration on venues.
“The Games adapt to the city, not the city adapt to the Games,” said Burns.
Hutcheson said his role is not to advocate for the Games, but to ensure Calgarians have as much information in hand as possible before the plebiscite. Economic impact studies will be consolidated into one document that identifies the pros and cons. The bidding process itself will generate benefits, he said.
“Win or lose, we’ll learn a lot about our strengths or weaknesses,” he said.
Dubi said the IOC will respect the results of the local vote.
“If the vote is positive, then we continue,” said Dubi. “If it’s not, no harm done. We will continue with the other cities.”
But Dubi made it clear that he feels the city will benefit, as it did in 1988.
“The reason we are so passionate is not that we’re organizing an event,” said Dubi. “We are in the business of transforming lives.”
Noting the legacy from Calgary’s 1988 Games, he said, “The Games have transformed the lives of Calgarians.”
Calgary Chamber president Sandip Lalli said her organization is looking for “a full story” for the citizens and businesses in the city.
Hutcheson says he has met with the mayor of Canmore.
“Canmore is not a venue; Canmore is a community,” he said. “They will decide what they need for the Games. Their council will vote on whether to support the bid.”
The IOC will vote on the host city for the 2016 Games in the fall of 2019.
Doug Firby is president of Troy Media Digital Solutions and publisher of Calgary’s Business and Troy Media.
Calgary’s Business publisher Doug Firby speaks with Scott Hutcheson, chair of the Calgary 2026 board of directors about the IOC’s commitment to change the Games bidding process