Olympic Security Budget for 2026 Calgary Games Cut

Olympic Security Budget for 2026 Calgary Games Cut

The security plan for the 2026 Olympic Games is making critics wonder how much comprehensive security really costs.

Security for the 2026 Olympic Games in Calgary includes volunteers, private-sector security guards, virtual fences and tethered drones — measures that are not cheap. 

Calgary's $495-million security plan for the 2020 Olympic games as been widely criticized for falling low below the $1 billion mark that most host countries spend on securing the multiple-day event. 

The bid corporation, which briefly describes security "as the most significant essential service related to the Games," originally planned to spend $610 million on security. However, the budget was cut to $495 million follow discussions with the Calgary Police Service and the Calgary Emergency Management Agency.

While half a billion dollars is a significant amount of money, critics says the budget is unrealistic and cost overruns in the hundreds of millions of dollars is to be expected.

"The Games are always characterized by a significant cost overrun and security is no different," said Michael Heine, the director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University in London, Ont.

The Calgary Bid Exploration Committee stated in its report, a de-facto precursor to the Calgary 2026 draft hosting plan, that the average cost of security "at recent Games" was $1.3 billion, which is nearly three times Calgary's proposed security budget.

"What they [various police agencies] have assured us is they're going to deliver a safe and secure Games and they will manage the cost and any further potential savings that we have," said Mary Moran, the CEO of the bid corporation.

Calgary hopes to cut costs by on-boarding volunteer security staff rather than hiring police officers for every security position as well as employ private security guards and peace officers that require less compensation. 

The report suggests the Calgary Games will look into deploying the following security measures:

  • CCTV analytics and an integrated video management system
  • Perimeter intrusion detection, virtual fences and unmanned aerial vehicles
  • More effective and efficient screening tools for people and vehicles



About the Author

Sydny Shepard is the Executive Editor of Campus Security & Life Safety.

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