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Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci warned that the city might not have enough money to hold the Games.JASON FRANSON/The Canadian Press

Calgary’s Olympic dreams are in jeopardy as Alberta and the federal government scramble to find more funding for the bid after accusations from provincial officials that Ottawa’s level of support has left serious questions about the city’s ability to stage the Games.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci warned on the weekend that the city might not have enough money to hold the Games after federal officials announced on Friday evening that Ottawa is willing to pay for half of the anticipated $3-billion public bill for staging the Olympics. With provincial and municipal contributions falling short of what those advocating and opposing the bid had expected, Mr. Ceci told reporters that he thought hundreds of millions more from the federal government would be forthcoming. He then accused Ottawa of negotiating in bad faith.

Officials with the province and federal government were working over the weekend to hammer out a funding structure for the Games that could save the bid, according to an official who was granted anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter.

Despite a decade-old federal policy that caps Ottawa’s contribution to large sporting events at half of the public cost, Mr. Ceci said on Saturday that he expected the federal government to contribute $1.75-billion in total, $250-million above that limit. The federal funding policy had applied in the past to both the Vancouver 2010 Olympics and Toronto’s 2015 Pan American Games.

The Finance Minister said that Alberta’s $700-million funding promise, which fell short of the $1-billion contribution expected by many close to the Olympic bid, was based on the expectation that Ottawa would go beyond the long-standing policy.

“We’ve been negotiating with the federal government in what we thought was good faith," Mr. Ceci said on Saturday. "We came to our $700-million number based on federal commitments of $1.75-billion in 2018 dollars, without any kind of 50-50 arrangement. We’re not planning to change or increase our funding arrangement.”

With Calgarians expected to vote in a plebiscite in two weeks about whether to pursue a Games' bid, the Calgary Herald reported Saturday that Mayor Naheed Nenshi sent a letter to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, after the public announcement of the level of federal funding, where he threatened to cancel the Olympic bid unless Ottawa came forward with more money before the end of the weekend.

According to the letter, which was also sent to Premier Rachel Notley’s office, the city is only looking to spend $370-million on the Games and also expects $1.75-billion from Ottawa. The proposed municipal contribution in the letter is less than the $500-million from Calgary expected by both supporters and opponents of the bid.

Mr. Nenshi’s office said that the mayor would not be responding to questions about his private correspondence to the Prime Minister. On Friday, the mayor released a statement where he said: “We were surprised to see this number reported for a proposed federal contribution to a potential Calgary 2026 Olympics as negotiations are still under way.”

Asked whether the Olympic bid will still go to a plebiscite on Nov. 13 as expected Ms. Notley told reporters on Sunday that, “It’s a little hard to predict.”

A draft plan for the 2026 Games has estimated the cost at $5.2-billion, with the three levels of government required to contribute $3-billion. Mr. Ceci has said the provincial government can’t contribute more as Alberta claws itself out of a deep budget deficit and continues to suffer from a weak energy market in the province.

After a suggestion from Ms. Notley last week that the International Olympic Committee should step forward to cover any gaps in funding, the sporting body’s executive director said that was not possible. Christophe Dubi said on Wednesday, after a tour of Calgary’s 1988 Olympic facilities, that the IOC’s $1.2-billion contribution was the most it could commit.

With a report from Allan Maki

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