Hosting the 1988 Calgary Games Changed Winter Sports in Canada

Calgary’s current population of 1.1 million received the Games only on the fourth attempt – they defeated Sweden’s Falun and Italy’s Cortina d’Ampezzo. Canadians joined their organization under enormous pressure of … an economic nature. The 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal turned out to be a financial disaster. The debts incurred for the construction of equipment and infrastructure were finally repaid for more than 30 years. The country could not afford a second such misadventure.

Central and local authorities have allocated approximately $310 million for the Olympics. However, negotiations with the American television channel ABC proved to be of paramount importance. The Calgary Games were the first to last 16 days, not 12 days. ABC paid a record $309 million for the right to broadcast them. The Canadian broadcaster contributed $36 million and received $73 million through various licenses and sponsors.

On the sporting level, the hosts had nothing to rejoice about. Even representatives of their national sport, that is, hockey players, did not manage to get on the podium. After the closing ceremony, however, it turned out that there were over 100 million left at the box office, the fate of which has made Canada today one of the world’s greatest winter sports powers. .

66 million was donated to an organization whose task it was to maintain the facilities to continue serving the athletes. Four years ago, it was renamed the Canadian Winter Sports Institute (WinSport Canada).

“I can’t find words to describe the incredible foresight of the people who donated these funds,” said WinSport manager Dan O’Neill, who had 185 million in his 2007 record. following, due to the recession, this amount has decreased.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) then received approximately 40 million.

– Every day we use the legacy of the Calgary Games. We invested those funds, and the interest funds the athletes. We owe a lot to these Olympics – underlined Marcel Aubut, President of the COC.

The effects of these activities are dramatic. Six years later in Albertville, athletes under the sign of the maple leaf have already won 13 medals (including three gold). In 2006, in Turin, they climbed on the podium 24 times, and seven on the top step. After the Olympics in Italy, a study was commissioned which showed that up to 3/4 of the medal winners in Turin prepared in the Olympic facilities in Calgary.

In 2010, Canadians once again hosted the Games. They took place in Vancouver and this time they did not disappoint the fans. They won 26 medals and thanks to 14 zlotys they triumphed in the standings. In total, the Americans (37.9 PLN) and the Germans (30.10 PLN) were more discs, but the Canadians have already announced that in Sochi they are the ones who will most often stand on the podium.

– What happened in the following years exceeded our wildest dreams. The games themselves were amazing. Suddenly the whole world found out where Calgary was. The city united, we had over 10,000 volunteers. Even the criminals gave up, the number of burglaries during this period halved – recalls the chairman of the organizing committee of the games in Calgary, Frank King.

On the occasion of the upcoming 25th anniversary, the newspaper “Calgary Sun” conducted a survey among residents. 81% want the city to host the Games again and 67% still have Olympic memorabilia. However, most, up to 86%, are convinced that their organization would bring economic benefits.

Recently, Poland and Slovakia expressed their desire to apply for the right to hold the Winter Games in 2022. However, official decisions on this have not yet been made.

Alec Dittman

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