Bob Niven, one of the architects of the Calgary Winter Olympics in 1988, has died from an illness. He was 80.
Calgary’s WinSport confirmed the death Sunday. Niven died of corticobasal degeneration — a rare, progressive, degenerative neurological disease that primarily affects speech, motor function and balance.
As a member of the Calgary Booster Club in 1978, Niven, along with Frank King, were the first two to raise their hand when the club president solicited interest in bringing the Olympic games to Calgary.
“They were really the key drivers to get the bid going, they were the sort of force behind it,” said Alf Fischer, who was involved in Alberta alpine skiing and worked with Niven throughout the Games.
“He had quite an impact on the city and made Calgary a formidable sports city.”
Bob spent 12 years in various volunteer roles with Olympiques Calgary Olympics ’88, dedicating his time to ensure the success of the games.
He also made significant contributions as chairman of the Calgary Olympic Development Association, which now operates as WinSport, the organization said.
Fischer said Niven’s legacy is visible across the city through facilities and buildings that he had a hand in developing, including the Saddledome and the Olympic Oval.
The training centre at Canada Olympic Park, long-known as a medal factory for Canadian winter athletes prior to the opening of the Markin MacPhail Centre, bears his name as the Bob Niven Training Centre.
Niven was inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame in 2012.
“Bob was a true Calgary sporting icon, who selflessly devoted so much of his time to amateur sport,” WinSport wrote in a statement.
“[He] was instrumental in Calgary hosting the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and ultimately the reason for WinSport existing as it does today.”