What could hosting the Paralympics mean for a Calgary bid?
When Calgary hosted the Winter Olympics in 1988, the Paralympic Games were held as a separate event in a different city, with its own organizing committee. It wasn’t until 2001 that the International Olympic Committee and International Paralympic Committee signed an agreement to collaborate and host both Games together, going forward with a “one bid, one city” approach. This agreement allowed for one Organizing Committee to oversee both Games, where athletes share the same village, services and facilities. The “one bid, one city” approach created an enhanced sense of community where all global citizens could unite in sport. Hosting the Paralympic Games could thus add a new dimension to planning and executing a bid, the hosting of the Games themselves, and the legacy and impact from them afterwards.
To host the Paralympic Games it is important for cities to consider facility modifications and updates to ensure all venues are completely accessible for athletes, coaches and spectators. Fortunately, as Calgary’s facilities, infrastructure and standards are relatively modern, much of the City’s critical infrastructure has been developed with some degree of accessibility so updates and renovations could be minimal.
The Paralympic Games represent inclusivity and the opportunity to build a city centered around accessible sport for all. In the exploration that CBEC is undertaking for a potential 2026 OPWG hosting plan, CBEC is also evaluating the opportunity to highlight its inclusiveness, accepting attitude and culture, and accessible amenities. The City of Calgary currently has an Advisory Committee on Accessibility in place, and receives direction from the Calgary Corporate Accessibility Policy as to how the city can reduce barriers to City-provided services for people with disabilities. CBEC is utilizing accessibility experts and policies such as these to assess how a potential Calgary bid, if prudent, could serve as a push to further improve the accessibility of its public spaces, buildings and sport facilities and thus cement the City’s reputation as a leader in civic accessibility – leaving a lasting legacy for Calgarians in everyday living and sport.