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Province will not initiate bid to host 2030 Games: premier

Citynews 1130 Vancouver

Last Updated Feb 20, 2020 at 8:57 pm PDT

Summary

A referendum would also be required for another bid, as in 2010

'Vancouver was put under a lot of financial strain in 2010'

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – The province would look at a bid to host the Winter Olympics again, but will not be initiating one, Premier John Horgan said Thursday.

The premier was responding to a suggestion earlier in the day by John Furlong, who led the 2010 organizing committee. Furlong told the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade on Thursday that the timing is right for Vancouver to bid to host the Games in 2030.

“I certainly feel there are lots of British Columbians and Canadians who have very fond memories of 2010. I know I do,” Horgan said, adding those Games were a success, but not without challenges leading up to the event.

But he wouldn’t commit to hosting the Olympics, again.

“If there’s a credible bid, I’d certainly take a look at it. But this needs to come from Vancouver, it needs to come from the committee. It’s not something we’ll be initiating,” Horgan said.

Bridgette Anderson, CEO of the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade, agreed hosting the 2030 Games would be a fantastic opportunity for the region, but said much discussion and consideration needs to occur before moving ahead with any bid plans.

“John Furlong has made a very inspiring and exciting challenge for all of us to consider, but to move ahead with something like this takes an incredible amount of collaboration and partnership, not only amongst the business community, but all three levels of government and our Indigenous partners, as well,” she said.

She added that hosting another Olympics would bring a great economic boost to the region and offer an opportunity to build on the legacy of 2010, but said some practical challenges exist.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart is open to another Olympic bid.

“I think it’s a good idea, but this would be a question for the premier and the prime minister, ultimately,” he said.

The provincial and federal governments would have to strike committees to move a bid forward, Stewart added.

A referendum would also be required, as in 2010, he said, and the city would need some funding assurances from senior governments to move ahead.

“The city was put under a lot of financial strain. It was a lot of fun, people had a great time here, but there was significant cost for the city.”

Stewart specifically mentioned housing and other challenges, such as the overdose crisis facing the city.

“Any large event like that would have to mesh well with out priorities that we are dealing with here with the city,” Stewart said.

Justin Fung, with the advocacy group Housing Action for Local Taxpayers, was surprised by Furlong’s suggestion.

“Certainly, if we are going to be hosting another Olympics in the future, it would be important for us to consider: ‘What are we doing about homelessness and how are we ensuring we’re not pushing more people out of their homes and onto the streets,” he said.

Fung would want to ensure any potential housing for future Olympic athletes have a social benefit as opposed to just being sold off to investors, and that taxpayers benefit from land near any related transportation improvements.

Hamish Telford, a political science professor at the University of the Fraser Valley, said the costs involved in another Olympic bid would be too complex and restrictive, while the benefits too few or risky.

“Western democracies, I think, are not enthusiastic. Governments have become more cautious about it as well.”

He adds only a few countries like China and Russia seem to be willing to assume all the risks deflected by the International Olympic Committee.