More than 56 percent of voters said ‘No’ in the plebiscite, a surprisingly lopsided margin after both sides had expected a close call in the city which hosted the 1988 Winter Games.
After witnessing a high turnout, with more than 304,000 ballots cast in a reflection of the interest in the poll, the unofficial results had 132,832 opting ‘For’ and 171,750 ‘Against’ Calgary making a bid to host the Games. Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi told reporters he expected the city council to officially suspend the bid next week.
The outcome was another blow for the International Olympic Committee (IOC), which has seen interest in hosting Games fall dramatically as the size and cost of staging the multi-sport event has sky-rocketed.
The Calgary vote leaves Sweden’s Stockholm and an Italian bid involving Milan and Cortina d’Ampezzo as the only candidates left in the race.
Swiss city Sion, Japan’s Sapporo and Graz in Austria all withdrew earlier this year, while Turkey’s Erzurum was last month eliminated from the bidding process by the IOC, which will elect the winning bid in June 2019.
While the Calgary vote was non-binding, the 15-member city council is expected to respect the outcome when it meets on Monday to decide whether to move the bid process forward. Calgary 2026 and Canada Olympic Committee (COC) acknowledged the people had spoken, with the former saying it would wrap up operations in the next few weeks. The Calgary 2026 Bid Corporation spent a reported C$10 million ($7.56 million) on the campaign for a yes vote but could not overcome a low budget grassroots effort to stop the bid.