Canadian Olympic session endorses Calgary bid for 2026 Games

(Reuters) - Calgary’s proposed bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games has won the support of the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC), officials said on Saturday.

A COC Session voted unanimously to approve Calgary’s candidature, the Olympic Committee said in a statement.

“This represents a very important and positive next step toward Calgary’s candidature for 2026,” said Tricia Smith, president of the Canadian Olympic Committee. “I want to thank the Session members for their confidence.

“We will continue to work with all the relevant stakeholders to build momentum to ensure an inspiring and responsible Olympic bid.”

Along with Calgary, which hosted the Games in 1988, Austria’s Graz, Swedish capital Stockholm, Turkey’s Erzurum, Japan’s Sapporo and an Italian bid involving Cortina d’Ampezzo, Milan and Turin had expressed an interest in hosting the 2026 Games, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) said in April.

An IOC session in October will invite candidates to bid formally and a host city will be selected in September, 2019.

The Canadian session’s “vote of confidence will allow all of us to move forward,” said Scott Hutcheson, chair of Calgary 2026.

“We have much work ahead of us but this is a positive step forward on the road to preparing Calgary to bid.”

Calgary’s city councillors voted in April to keep alive the process.

A bid exploration committee estimated last year that Calgary would need C$2.4 billion ($1.91 billion) in funding to cover the shortfall between revenue and costs if it were to host the sporting extravaganza.

Reporting by Gene Cherry in Raleigh, North Carolina; editing by Clare Fallon