Any decision to discuss and consider a bid to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games is far bigger than the City of Vancouver, according to a newly released report by city staff to city council.
City staff state the municipal government will not lead the bid process or bid dialogue, but rather it will be a “regional approach” guided by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and Canadian Paralympic Committee.
At this time, it is premature for the city make any direction on the 2030 Games, and it is advised that city council “wait to make an informed decision” as to what the Olympics could mean for Vancouver and the wider region.
The recommendation by city staff ahead of next Wednesday’s public meeting — when city council is scheduled to deliberate on the matter — is to have continued dialogue with local First Nations, regional and provincial partners, and relevant experts, and report back at a later date with an updated timeline on the process and recommendations for public consultation in the planning phase of an event concept.
In the report, city staff highlighted the extensive post-2010 reforms of the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) bidding requirements and host city selection processes, and the flexibility that is now offered to hosts. Rather than Olympic host cities, there are now host regions to allow for more sustainable legacies.
The IOC’s “New Norm” initiatives starting in 2018 reduces costs for cities and regions during the bidding process, and provides them with greater support to develop event concepts so that the Games “achieve maximum alignment with the long-term plans of the city and the region.”
The report notes that fundamentally, “it is a much different process than what Vancouver 2010 experienced some 20 years ago.”
“This new process means that any interested party can enter into a non-committal continuous dialogue with the IOC. There is no submission and no presentation by interested parties during the continuous dialogue.”
Under its Olympic Agenda 2020 principles, the IOC now encourages prospective hosts to engage in dialogue and present the best event plan that has sustainability as the driving principle.
Local proponents state the 2030 Games could be a powerful tool for providing BC with an economic boost, given the expected long-term effects of COVID-19. The tourism, hospitality, events, and arts sectors are amongst the hardest hit industries, and they are also some of the largest employers in the province.
“A thoughtful Games plan could catalyze and/or accelerate priority projects resulting in net economic gain for the region. The reformed Olympic Agenda 2020, makes it possible the notion of a more distributed model that could involved ‘hubs’ in multiple cities or regions. This would enable maximum use of existing venues, including those that hosted events in 2010, or use of new venues can be considered where long-term community needs and development plans are completely aligned with Games requirements,” continues the report.
“As a result, the opportunity to explore the potential of hosting a future Winter Games in British Columbia is a coordinated regional discussion, and will not be lead or the sole decision of the City of Vancouver.”
At this time, it is also deemed too early to engage in deep dialogue with the COC, says city staff, as they are currently preoccupied with the challenges of COVID-19 and safely preparing Canadian athletes for the Tokyo Summer Games starting in late July 2021 and the Beijing Winter Games in February 2022. The COC is not expected to engage in serious discussions on a potential bid until at least after the Tokyo Games.
City staff also emphasized that no group has been sanctioned to act officially on the behalf of the COC or lead a bid.
However, city staff noted that the COC has already determined that “Vancouver (as a region) would be the strongest candidate for a future Winter Olympic Games based on a set of evaluation factors.”
Furthermore, while highlighting the physical, economic, and cultural legacies of the Games held in this region more than a decade ago, city staff state the “Vancouver 2010 Winter Games is seen as one of the most successful Games for a host country in Olympic history.”