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Mamdani: today’s economy should not derail an Olympic bid for Calgary

Many people, organizations and businesses bemoan the current economic challenges of our city. While those challenges are real, they are not insurmountable. We are a city of smart people and we will find solutions.

In fact, all hands are on deck to find those solutions. Calgary Economic Development, academic institutions, our City Council leadership and many of my counterparts in our business community are doing what we can be it policy, incentives or marketing. My company, Strategic Group, is repurposing under-used office space into new residential homes. It is all work in the right direction.

All that to say: Our economy today is not a reason to stop our Olympic bid tomorrow.

Calgary can and will run a successful Olympics. We set the bar high in 1988 for future games, and Calgarians will do it again in 2026. Our spirit of community, volunteerism and management skills will result in the most imaginative games ever—it’s the Calgary way.

There is no greater opportunity for positive exposure than hosting the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

In my career, I often travel and meet with investors around the globe. As proud as we are of our home, Calgary is rarely top of mind. Getting international investors, entrepreneurs and business leaders to think of Calgary often takes great effort—more effort than it should.

Hosting the 2026 Games would blow our door wide open. We would not just be welcoming the world for a major international celebration—we would be welcoming the economic world to Calgary in a way no marketing campaign can ever achieve. Over the course of a bid, while hosting successful Games, and well into the future, the world will know the opportunity of Calgary and that will pay dividends that we will all collect.

The benefits and legacy of the 2026 Games have been well-tread by many others. Ours could be the most inclusive, accessible and sustainable Games. The legacy we build for our community in sport, arts and culture, health and wellness, and social well-being will be undeniably powerful.

And, yes, our chance to really tackle the long-term economic and social health of our downtown is incredibly exciting. Calgary 2026 is the right opportunity at the right time for our city. It is an opportunity we can’t pass up.

Across disciplines and demographics, many Calgarians know the Olympics will provide a positive boost to our city. It will restore our presence on the international stage. We know Calgarians will manage the games in a fashion that will create new standards for others to follow.

On Tuesday, November 13, I hope that Calgarians will join me to vote Yes to bidding to host the 2026 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Riaz Mamdani is the CEO of Strategic Group

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