XV Olympic Winter Games Held in Calgary, Alberta, Canada
The 1988 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XV Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Calgary, Alberta and opened by the 23rd Governor General of Canada: Jeanne Sauvé.
1988 was the last year that the Winter Paralympics and the Winter Olympics were held in separate cities; all subsequent Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games have been hosted by the same city, starting with 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. These Winter Olympics were also the last time the teams from both the Soviet Union and East Germany competed as distinct National Olympic Committees or NOCs.
As at the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the Canadian team failed to win a gold medal, matching only former Yugoslavia in the dubious distinction of not having won an Olympic winter gold medal on home soil.
The instrumental theme song ("Winter Games") and its vocal counterpart ("Can't You Feel It?") were both composed and performed by Canadian musician, David Foster, of Victoria, British Columbia. The official mascots of the games were two western-attired polar bears named Hidy and Howdy. The names were chosen from a field of 7,000 names through a contest sponsored by the Calgary Zoo. They were designed by Sheila Scott of Great Scott Productions, and produced by International Mascot Corporation of Edmonton, Alberta.
A record of 57 National Olympic Committees (NOCs) entered athletes at the 1988 Winter Olympic Games.
It was the first Winter Olympic Games for Fiji, Guam, Guatemala, Jamaica, and Netherlands Antilles.
Organizers and government claimed that the Calgary Olympic Games turned a profit. They declared a surplus of between $90–$150 million, and this money was used to fund the various Olympic venues in Calgary. Ever mindful of the financial disaster of the 1976 Summer Olympics, Calgary organizers attempted to be financially successful, because there was political pressure on them to erase the spectre of a second Canadian Games at a loss. Organizers claimed that their use of these profits for the future Canada Olympic Park and the funding of Canadian athletes through the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) gave Calgary a lasting legacy and impact on the Canadian sports scene, and also provided funds for the maintenance and upgrading of athletic facilities in Calgary, Banff, and Lake Louise. Well after the Olympics ended, they declared, CODA continued to use its resources to develop resources for Olympic athletes in the city, which included supporting Canada's first high school designed for Olympic calibre athletes, in a partnership with the Calgary Board of Education.
However, a widely cited 1993 audit and independent research conducted by the daily newspaper The Toronto Star in 1999 showed that these financial figures were largely bogus. When announcing these numbers, organizers had removed from their calculations $461 million in subsidies provided by federal, provincial and local governments used mainly for building the games venues. When these government investments were included in the balance sheets, the Calgary Olympics produced a huge financial loss.
There was a substantial social impact as well. From the unprecedented volunteer involvement in staging the Games, a program where ordinary Calgarians could purchase, for $19.88 in the summer of 1986, a brick at the main medal presentation plaza called the Olympic Plaza with their names laser-engraved on it. The involvement of ordinary Calgarians was evident. This was of paramount importance to the organizing committee, OCO'88, as it kept the Games from appearing distant and "out of reach".
In 1999, a bribery scandal hit the Salt Lake Organizing Committee (SLOC) for the 2002 Winter Olympics. The main focus of that scandal was the tactics used by that organizing committee then to win the bid in Budapest, Hungary, at the 104th IOC Session in 1995. There was talk of stripping the rights of hosting the Games away at the time because of that circumstance. That whole scene played out before the unforeseen 9/11 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington, D.C. on the United States. Calgary then sent an offer to step in to be an alternate host of the 2002 Winter Olympics, if Salt Lake City was unable to host the Games because of both counts.
Calgary tried again to bid for the Winter Olympic Games in 2010, but lost out when the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) chose Vancouver as the city that would be the Canadian bid internationally. Eventually, Vancouver was chosen to host the 2010 Winter Olympics over PyeongChang, Korea, and Salzburg, Austria in July 2003 at the 115th IOC Session in Prague, Czech Republic.
Unfortunately, the host Canadian team failed to win a gold medal in the 1988 Winter Olympics. The Canadian Olympic Committee has pledged to change this at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with a program called Own the Podium - 2010, and the Olympic team's success in Turin 2006 made that seem like a distinct possibility.
The Alberta provincial government, under Ed Stelmach on August 30, 2007, committed CDN$69-million, of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA) CDN$276-million overall project cost, to construct Canada's first Centre of Sport Excellence. This announcement included the unveiling of a new facility design for Canada Olympic Park (COP) called the Athletic and Ice Complex. Previous governments have already given funds recently to upgrade and/or maintain existing Olympic winter venues in Calgary and Canmore, Alberta in the past. For example, CDN$25.6-million was provided to renovate the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park area, in time for the 2005 Alberta Centennial FIS World Cup event. CDN$600,000 was spent in maintaining the ski jumping venue at Canada Olympic Park . On October 5, 2007, the Canadian federal government promised an additional CDN$40-million toward the project, according to an article written by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).