The federal government’s $5 million commitment to support a unified North American bid for the 2026 FIFA World Cup is unlikely to impact whether or not it contributes to a potential Calgary bid for the Winter Olympics that same year, experts and stakeholders say.
Minister of Sport and Persons with Disabilities Kirsty Duncan announced Tuesday that the Liberal government would support the FIFA bid, which if successful, would also include men’s soccer games in Mexico and the United States. The North American trio is up against Morocco, with a decision expected in June.
Last month, Mayor Naheed Nenshi said the city should have more information soon about possible commitments by the federal and provincial governments for a potential 2026 Olympic bid. A commitment of $1.2 billion each would be needed to move forward, according to Kyle Ripley, director of the Calgary Olympic and Paralympic 2026 Project.
Annabelle Archambault, a spokesperson for Duncan, said Ottawa is continuing discussions with its sport partners “to make sure we make the right decision, not a rushed decision” when it comes to Calgary potentially hosting the 2026 Winter Games.
She noted that it’s not unprecedented for federal dollars to fund two major sporting events in Canada in the same year.
“Co-hosting the 2026 FIFA World Cup makes this a much smaller and affordable event than if Canada were to host it alone,” Archambault stated. “It has been done before, for example, when Canada hosted the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup and the Toronto 2015 Pan American and Parapan American Games in the same year.”
Nenshi echoed those thoughts Tuesday, adding that the U.S. would shoulder the load of the FIFA tournament if North America wins the right to host.
“Canada will not get a ton of matches,” he said. “As a result, I think the capacity is absolutely there to do both big events in the same year if that’s what the feds choose to do.”
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Mount Royal University professor David Legg, who specializes in sports management and is involved with Calgary Bid Exploration Committee, said that while it’s rare for one country to host multiple sporting events of this magnitude in the same year, Canada’s position a secondary FIFA …read more