Calgary, Canmore mayors to head to Pyeongchang as part of observer program for potential Olympics hosts

Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with other officials from Calgary, Canmore and the federal and provincial governments are jetting off to Pyeongchang this week as part of the Winter Olympics Observer Program.

Naheed Nenshi and John Borrowman will be accompanied by officials from provincial and federal governments

Volunteers stand in front of the Olympic rings at the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Tuesday. (Ahn Young-joon/Associated Press)

Mayor Naheed Nenshi along with other officials from Calgary, Canmore and the federal and provincial governments are jetting off to Pyeongchang this week as part of the Winter Olympics Observer Program.

Nenshi will be leading Calgary's delegation, which leaves for Korea on Monday and returns Feb. 14.

Other members of the delegation, which will be heading out to Pyeongchang in different waves, include Calgary's deputy city manager, deputy premier Sarah Hoffman, the premier's chief of staff, Canmore Mayor John Borrowman, Alberta Tourism Minister Ricardo Miranda, and other senior managers, planners and advisors from Calgary, Canmore, Alberta, the federal government and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

"The program is a unique opportunity to experience the Games first-hand to learn how we could host a successful Games in Calgary — if we pursue a bid," Nenshi said in a statement on Friday.

Kyle Ripley, who leads Calgary's Olympic exploration program, says the observer program offers valuable information for the city's decision on whether or not to bid for the 2026 Winter Games.

"Delegates will assess existing and built infrastructure used at the Pyeongchang games, liaise with other orders of government, explore potential economic development opportunities, meet with COC and IOC officials, athletes and staff and Canadian IOC members," he said.

"The information obtained will be of great assistance in the shaping of a potential future bid and as such participation in the observer program is highly recommended should council wish to remain in the dialogue stage of the IOC process."

The program is estimated to cost $135,000, which will be split between Calgary, Canmore and the provincial and federal governments.

Calgary's portion of the cost will come from the city council's approved budget for the exploration of a bid for the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. 

With files from Scott Dippel