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Calgary wins Olympic bid

It might be the most ruthless of all Olympic competitions: the race for the right to host the Games. At stake are hundreds of millions of dollars in potential profit, and an indelible mark on the global map. To opponents it's a colossal waste of tax dollars, a carnival of hype, spin and speculation. CBC Archives looks back at Canada's winning and losing Olympic bids.

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Third time's a charm for Calgary, Alta. To the delight of Canadians everywhere -- particularly in the West -- the city will play host to Canada's first Winter Olympics. It's also the first time the Games will be held in the Rocky Mountains. As we hear in this clip, bringing the Olympics to this booming city of 600,000 is optimistically seen as a salve for strained regional-federal relations, and a shot in the arm for Canadian sport. 
• Calgary's push to win the Winter Olympics began with a group of sportsmen in 1957. In previous bid attempts, the city lost bids to Innsbruck, Austria (1964 Games), and to Grenoble, France (1968 Games).
• Calgary's international competition was Falun, Sweden and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy. Cortina d'Ampezzo hosted the 1952 and 1956 Winter Games. It also beat Montreal and Oslo, Norway for the 1944 Winter Games, which were cancelled because of the Second World War.

• In the first round of voting, Calgary received 35 votes to Falun's 25; Cortina d'Ampezzo received 18 votes and was eliminated. Calgary won the second round of voting with 48 votes to Falun's 31.
• Falun and Cortina d'Ampezzo bid against each other again for the 1992 Winter Games. Again they were defeated, losing to Albertville, France.
• There were no Canadian bids for the 1980 or 1984 Olympics.

• The early 1980s were a boom time for Calgary. The city of 600,000 was growing by 20,000 a year. Large businesses were building corporate headquarters there, and the city had been awarded an NHL franchise the year before (the Atlanta Flames became the Calgary Flames on May 21, 1980. The Saddledome was built for the team, and featured in the Olympic bid). The Olympics were touted as a key way to put Calgary on the international map.

• At the time, Calgary still had the reputation of being a "cow town." After the International Olympic Committee announcement, Pat Freeman of the Calgary Tourist and Convention Association said he immediately received calls from American journalists asking if Calgary had any hotels.
• According to Jack Batten's Canada at the Olympics, Calgary was such an international unknown that after the IOC announcement, the mayor of Cagliari, Italy, received several telegrams of congratulations.
Medium: Radio
Program: Sunday Magazine
Broadcast Date: Oct. 4, 1981
Guest(s): Frank King, Dick Pound, Gerald Regan
Host: Jan Tennant
Reporter: George Young
Duration: 5:34

Last updated: May 25, 2012

Page consulted on September 29, 2014

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