Here’s some advice to Calgary about its possible bid for the Winter Olympics: Don’t.

As more and more cities are discovering, the Olympics have become a mugs game. You take on big debts while the IOC rakes in millions of dollars. You build infrastructure you may never use again. And you direct scarce dollars, in this case as much as five billion dollars, away from other priorities that would create more long-term benefit for the community.

In the bidding for the 2024 Summer Games, most of the cities eventually dropped out. Big cities like Tokyo, Paris and Los Angeles, which are hosting the next three Summer Olympics, are better equipped to afford the Olympics, although even they could end up saddling their residents with enormous debts.

The Winter Games are a little more manageable, and Calgary’s done it before with some success. But they aren’t worth the risk, especially when Alberta’s economy is struggling. The Olympics don’t produce the economic benefits many people claim they do.

The Olympic movement needs a major reset. Before that happens, nobody should take their chances on a costly bid that could lead to an even costlier event.


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