Kelly VanderBeek OLY, Broadcaster, Trainer, Artist
My Letter to the Editor - Calgary 2026 Bid
I have my misgivings about the 2026 Olympic Games Bid (WADA…need I say more…), and likely losing my TV roles with CBC (since they traditionally lose the bidding war to host home Games’).
Yet, I am still a firm supporter of the 2026 Bid and this is why.
Selfishly, I believe no one will host a cleaner (in terms of anti-doping) or more environmentally & socially conscious Games.
I have to look no further than Vancouver to see a prime example of how Canadians successfully host Games. With a legacy of communal spaces, improved transit, and conference centres, the benefits of those Games are wide spread both in social reach & in length of time.
Pre-Vancouver, when carrying the Olympic torch, I was only one of two Canadian-born citizens on my route, yet the unifying aspect beyond measure. At that moment, we were all Canadian and were forever bonded this by positive experience. I hope to witness that type of unifying energy descend on Calgary, Canmore & Alberta once again.
Plus, Games MAKE money. Vancouver in 2010, Salt Lake City in 2002, and most recently PyeongChang 2018, all wrapped up on the positive side of the debt equation. In a time of financial strains in our province, I don’t see the downside.
Still, the hard questions need to be asked. We must remain vigilant when facing misinformation and fear mongering. An example was in 2010 regarding the Whistler Medals Plaza - a hot topic at the root of countless protests. Many preached that a patch of trees in the village was going to be bulldozed, used as a medals plaza for 4 weeks, then turned into a parking lot. The reality was anything but. It is now a centre for the Whistler community, both young and old, to gather, play, and take in cultural events. It was a verifiable success on all fronts.
Asking the hard questions, pushing for real answers, are a part of why our society is primed to host successful Games. However, in a time when the public messaging in our news and politics are so strongly driven by fear, it is my hope that we’ll move forward with a 2026 bid with optimism.
I have participated first hand in 7 Olympics Games as both an athlete and a TV Host. I have covered the stories leading into the Games and those following them. Comparable economies & societies to Canada’s all experience this cycle of protest, fear, and finally success. However, letting our fears dominate our votes is sadly going to mean our communities and our youth are going to miss out on immense advantages.
Finally, for the sake of our athletes, I don’t want to see them face a Games like those held in Sochi, Russia, where corruption ran rampant. Sitting idly by is not the solution, hosting them is.
I know the 2026 Games will leave a legacy worthy of our support and selfishly, for my son and for our community, I hope this bid moves forward.