Calgary Councillor Richard Pootmans was one of the leading voices of criticism to the bid exploration committee during the meeting ©Twitter

Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games has hit an early stumbling block due to concerns from local politicians that they may become "sidelined" in the exploration process.

A funding agreement between Tourism Calgary and the city was delayed yesterday after the Councillors decided to postpone a decision on the corporate structure of the recently-established bid Exploration Committee.

The Council is hoping to have more control over the process and they have sought “potential alternative structures that would secure a controlling interest for the City of Calgary”.

The Committee, led by former police chief Rick Hanson and which includes the likes of Olympic cross-country skiing gold medallist Beckie Scott, is looking into whether Calgary should pursue an attempt at securing the hosting rights for the Winter Games in 10 years’ time.

The city wants to have an enhanced stake in the Committee, a non-profit organisation which has civic funding of CAD$5 million (£2.9 million/$3.8 million/€3.4 million), to ensure they remain fully involved in the process to decide if Calgary, which hosted the 1988 Winter Olympics, should bid.

Councillor Richard Pootmans believes the role of the city in discussions concerning a bid for the event in 2026 has been "minimised" so far and called for them to have at least a 51 per cent stake in the Exploration Committee.

"i don't want to see the position of the city be on the sidelines," he told CBC News.

"Since the beginning, the city's role, I think, has been minimised and I don't like to see that further enshrined in what we're doing today.

"I certainly believe we need a stronger governance position."

Calgary last hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 ©Getty Images
Calgary last hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1988 ©Getty Images

In response, Kurt Hanson, the city's general manager of community services, urged the need for the issue to be cleared up as soon as possible to allow the Exploration Committee to undertake the necessary work.

The group is due to produce an interim report for the City Council in January, with a more detailed document set to be delivered in June.

"If we want to get this done, we're going to have to be able to give them the wheels to do it," Hanson said.

The make-up and role of the Exploration Committee came under scrutiny during yesterday’s Council meeting, with several members questioning how the money will be used.

The issue of whether it has clear conflict of interest guidelines as some of the officials on the committee hold roles within the Olympic world was also raised.

Councillor Druh Farrell seemingly had the most questions for the Committee, admitting she was concerned there was no economist and that the members would not be able to show "healthy criticism" towards the bid due to their keen Olympic interest.

Hanson claimed the conflict of interest matter would be at the top of the agenda when the Committee meets on Thursday (September 29).

Switzerland are almost certain to bid for the 2026 Games, with four projects in the running to be their candidate.

Trento in Italy, Dresden in Germany, 2022 runner-up Almaty in Kazakhstan, Sweden's capital Stockholm, Lake Placid in the United States and the Japanese city of Sapporo have all been touted as potential bidders.