Canada’s athletes, coaches and sport leaders have a request for Calgary City Council to give the people of your city a voice in making a decision on a potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics, by voting YES.
Several Olympic, Paralympic and development-level athletes with strong ties to Calgary are standing up and calling for the city’s citizens to be heard following the news this week that city councillors are scheduled to decide Monday (April 16) if it will continue working on a bid to bring the Winter Games back to Alberta in 2026.
The athletes, many of whom have been introduced to sport through legacy facilities from the 1988 Calgary Games which have developed them into medal-winning athletes for Canada on the world stage, are asking council to vote YES and do what’s fair and democratic in allowing the city’s residents to participate in a plebiscite on whether or not to move forward with the bid.
The group of athletes, which includes bobsledders Helen Upperton, Kaillie Humphries and Jesse Lumsden, luge athlete Sam Edney, Jeff Christie two-time Olympian, believe strongly in bringing back the Winter Games to Calgary for the first time since 1988. They point to several reasons that will benefit Calgarians, Albertans, Canadians and future Olympic athletes, including:
- We understand and appreciate the impact that the 1988 Calgary Games had on today’s generation of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. In February, Canadians watched their Olympic and Paralympic athletes deliver their best Winter Games performance ever, and 1988 played a pivotal role in setting the table for that success;
- We owe it to the next generation of Canadians and our aspiring Olympians to continue the conversation. There’s nothing better for an Olympian than to step on the podium in their home and native land;
- The 1988 Calgary Games gave the world an Olympics to remember, and we’re asking for the chance to bring the world to Calgary once again;
- Calgary has one of the most successful Olympic legacies in the world which is now 30 years old and reaching the end of its lifeline. A 2026 Olympics is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to renew infrastructure and modernize planning for Calgarians;
- The investment that would be made in a successful Olympic bid goes far beyond the two weeks of hosting the 2026 Games. As we’ve seen with the 1988 Games, it’s an investment that pays dividends for decades;
- The economic impact of Calgary hosting another Winter Olympics will have long-term benefit for the city and the province;
- Many athletes from across the country have made Calgary home and are now citizens because of the infrastructure that is in place.
- In 1988 the venues were not accessible, we can remedy that by providing the framework for world class venues that would be welcoming to all.
The athletes want their voices to be heard.
Sam Edney – Olympic luge medallist
“In my mind, there’s nothing better than for this city to host an Olympic games. I think Calgary has a real opportunity to say ‘this is how it can be done’. They did it in 1988. It was kind of a game changer of the Olympics at the time and they’ve got a position to do that a again.”
Kaillie Humphries – three-time Olympic medallist
“I’m a product of the ’88 Games, as is pretty much every single Canadian that is on the Olympic team now, of some type.You know, having the Games here, you’ll start to see the wave in about 10, 15 years of, you know, what Vancouver brought. So, if Calgary can get the Winter Olympics again, it would be phenomenal and I would absolutely love it.”
Jesse Lumsden – Three-time Olympian
“Calgary could really benefit from these Games, Alberta could really benefit from these Games. They could reset that bar of what the standard is and should be. All they need to do is look at ’88 and the legacy that it’s created over the years. We’re still training in facilities that were built for ’88, competing on these facilities. The infrastructure is in place. We know we have the … ability to sustain these for community use. WinSport contributes $120 million of positive economic impact annually to the City of Calgary. This is in addition to the social and cultural impact on the community.”
Helen Upperton – Olympic silver medallist
“It totally excites me. We are still one of the best examples in the world of what hosting the Olympics can do for a city long term.”
Jeff Christie – Two-time Olympian
“I’ve been able to have such a successful career because of how much money was brought in for Vancouver and I think there’s a lot of Olympians who have had great careers because of that. So (a 2026 Calgary Games) would build up a whole other generation of great athletes that would have a lot easier of a time to follow their dreams.”
Just as they’re motivated and inspired by the support they receive from Canadians when they compete on the ice and snow, however, they also want Calgarians to participate in the conversation and provide support in determining what’s best for the city. That won’t happen if City Council votes Monday against continuing to work on a potential bid for the 2026 Games.
So, let the people of Calgary speak. All of them.
Open Letter from Olympians, Paralympians and Calgarians to City Councillors of Calgary
The only thing better than winning a gold medal is winning a gold medal at home. The only thing better than winning a gold medal at home is the legacy that a games can gift future generations of citizens and Olympians. The Olympics exist to inspire the best in us, but most of all, our youth.
We now have the opportunity to rekindle our city’s Olympic dream. That’s a conversation worth having. When Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, we amazed the world and improved our home. Imagine what today’s Calgary could do.
We are Olympians, we are Paralympians and we are Calgarians. We aren’t asking you for a final yes or no. What we are asking for, is that we continue the Olympic conversation. Give us a chance to explore what Calgary can show the world today.