October 30, 2018 / 8:40 PM / 21 days ago

Olympics-Calgary Olympic committee recommends city scrap 2026 Winter Games bid

Oct 30 (Reuters) - Calgary's Olympic assessment committee on Tuesday recommended the city scrap a bid for the 2026 Winter Games after a funding row with the Canadian government.

A full vote of council on whether to officially take the western Canadian city, which previously hosted the Olympics in 1988, out of the running will be held on Wednesday.

The recommendation also seeks to cancel the Nov. 13 non-binding plebiscite on whether to bid for the 2026 Olympics, with one councillor saying it would be unfair to ask residents to vote without a funding agreement in place.

Calgary's Olympic committee deliberated for nearly four hours on Tuesday following recent reports that the city and federal government were unable to reach a successful conclusion to funding talks.

"There is not a fiscally responsible plan without these funding agreements ... the clock has run out and it's time to move on," Councillor Evan Woolley, the chair of the Olympic assessment committee, told Calgary City Council.

The recommendation comes three weeks after Calgary, Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Cortina D'Ampezzo and Milan officially became candidates for the 2026 Winter Games after the International Olympic Committee ratified their bids.

The bid committee has estimated the cost to host the Games would be C$5.23 billion ($3.98 billion), with C$3 billion of that amount coming from the public purse.

The federal government announced last Friday its intention to spend as much as C$1.75 billion ($1.33 billion) to host the Olympics. But that figure was in 2026 dollars, meaning the real amount is about $1.5 billion in 2018 dollars.

To receive the full amount, however, the province and city would have to raise their combined spending to the equivalent of $1.5 billion in 2018 dollars.

The Alberta government has pledged $700 million if the city hosts the Games, meaning Calgary, which has said its share would not exceed that of the province's, would have to contribute $800 million to get the maximum federal contribution. (Reporting by Frank Pingue and Steve Keating in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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