The 2030 Olympic bid could run into trouble

The report, addressed to the city council, cites time, manpower and resource limitations and missing details.

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Vancouver has not had enough time to negotiate what is required for a formal bid to the International Olympic Committee for the 2030 Winter Olympics, according to a staff report that will be presented to City Council next week.

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“The council would need to have a clear understanding of the proposed funding, operational, compensation and governance models for the proposed BC bid,” Deputy City Manager Karen Levitt wrote in the report. “None of that currently exists.”

“At the time of this report,” Levitt wrote, “staff are unable to make a definitive recommendation.”

However, Chris Dornan of bid group Own the Podium said in a statement he believes it is possible to meet the milestones in the bid process if the various communities and First Nations involved agree to proceed.

According to the report, a formal application must be submitted to the International Olympic Committee by February. In contrast, Levitt notes that the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corp., a non-profit organization tasked with organizing the 2010 Winter Olympics bid, had about six years to prepare.

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The IOC plans to name the host city at its May meeting in Mumbai. Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan are also considering bids.

Vancouver’s partners in the bid – which include the Resort Municipality of Whistler and the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat First Nations – have not officially announced whether they support the bid. A report on the 2030 bid will be presented to Whistler Council on July 19, according to Whistler communications officer Penny Lafrance.

According to the website of the Host Nations Exploratory Assembly, which is tasked with exploring the possibility of hosting the 2030 Olympics, the group is currently in a consultation phase that runs until November.

Levitt’s report said a formal announcement from this organization was “the first step in determining whether all parties would collectively present a BC bid.”

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“With all partners committed to examining the vision outlined in the original hosting concept, it is possible to finalize the right details and agreements in reasonable timeframes,” wrote Chris Dornan of the 2030 feasibility team in a statement.

According to the report, Vancouver could face “unlimited financial risk” as neither the federal nor provincial governments have yet agreed to fund the Games or protect the city from potential financial losses.

“The Eight First Nations and local governments should not assume that the province is responsible for the cost of services and/or risks they may incur,” wrote Melanie Mark, Secretary of State for Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sports BC, in a June letter to the Canadian Olympic Committee.

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Federal government policy for international sporting events limits contributions to 35 percent of total event costs and 50 percent of public contributions.

“The lack of a clear commitment from senior government to compensate for the event represents a significant difference in context for Vancouver compared to the 2010 Games,” Levitt wrote in the report. “Given the magnitude of the potential liability, it would not be feasible for the city to register as a host city for the 2030 Winter Games without being adequately compensated.”

Staffing levels in the city were another concern raised by Levitt, who said there were “significant concerns” about the city’s ability to host an Olympic event without “significant investment” in staffing.

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Vancouver is already scheduled to host several major sporting events in the years leading up to the 2030 Olympics, including the 2023 Laver Cup tennis tournament, the 2025 Invictus Games and the 2026 FIFA World Cup. There are also a number of significant local development projects including the Senakw development, the Vancouver and Broadway development plans; and the expansion of the Broadway subway.

“City employees are currently facing an unprecedented workload,” Levitt wrote. “The organization of the city currently has no capacity to take over the planning and preparation of the 2030 Winter Games.”

The report also found that most of the financial benefits from hosting more Winter Olympics would go to federal and provincial governments in the form of sales taxes, although it noted that private companies – particularly in the tourism and hospitality industries, which were struggling – hit during the pandemic – would likely benefit from the games.

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