Council Support Cools For Toronto 2024 Olympic Bid as Pan Am Games Glow Fades

Toronto, Centre of Southern Ontario 2015 Pan Am Games Bid

Toronto, Canada

While Toronto Mayor John Tory quietly reviews his city’s potential for a 2024 Olympic bid, some city council members have doubts over the feasibility of the project.

“I think the deadline should come and go,” Toronto Councillor John Campbell said of a September 15 International Olympic Committee (IOC) deadline for nominations of interested cities.

“I don’t think we should get the Olympics. I think it will be an albatross that the city would bear for decades to come.”

It only takes the mayor’s approval for the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) to draft a letter to the IOC showing Toronto’s interest, the required approvals from the council and other governments could come at a later date.  The (USD) $50,000 application fee would be borne by the COC and not the city.

Still, bid proponents and the mayor will be looking for more widespread support before moving forward.

Should Toronto bid for the 2024 Olympic Games?

  • Yes (50%)
  • No (47%)
  • Not Sure (4%)

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On Tuesday Los Angeles city council is expected to vote in favour of allowing Mayor Eric Garcetti the authority to sign Olympic documents opening the door to an Olympic bid that could be approved the same day.  To some in Toronto, this would mark the end to any chances that Toronto might be able to win the bid.

Budget Chief Gary Crawford said “I’d really love to see the Olympics in North America but now that Los Angeles has put In a bid, a very competitive bid, I don’t know if we’d be able to succeed,”

Canadian Gymnast Ellie Black Performs at Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games (GamesBids Photo)

Canadian Gymnast Ellie Black Performs at Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games (GamesBids Photo)

“When I’m starting to look at the fiscal realities, the cost and all that and the fact that Los Angeles has actually put in a bid, I’m sort of uncomfortable whether or not that is something I think we could achieve.”

“I’m not saying no to it at this point but I’m cautiously stepping back a little bit to wait and see.”

But Olympic bid campaigns rarely go as expected – the two year competitions are full of twists and turns that often leave the initial front runners out of the Games.  The hundred-or-so IOC members who vote by secret ballot don’t always share the same views as the general public.

Rio snatched its 2016 bid victory from Chicago, the city that seemed to be a runaway favourite before it was eliminated in the first round of voting behind three other bids.  London edged out Paris for 2012 by a narrow margin while oddsmakers were calling for a French victory.

Some of Mayor Tory’s counterparts in the region remain supportive of the bid including Milton Mayor Gord Krantz whose city is home to the Pan Am Games velodrome, and Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger.

“I would encourage [Tory] to seriously consider about it, because I would say, ‘count me in,'” Krantz told CBC.

Yet Torontonians may still have clear memories of their last bid for the 2008 Games that seemed to initially belong to Canada until Beijing entered the race just days before the deadline.  At that time in 2001, outgoing IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch was eager to see the Games hosted in China and it seemed that his membership was happy to oblige.  Toronto’s bid, considered to be the technical best, was lost from the outset.

But those days are over, and the IOC has implemented changes and reforms that leave the door open for many cities – if they choose to take the opportunity.

Councillor James Pasternak suggested that a joint bid with Buffalo, New York would help keep costs low and align the bid with the IOC’s Agenda 2020, the organization’s move towards feasibility and sustainability – but Los Angeles would get in the way.

Then he said “Torontonians should hope that Los Angeles loses in 2024, and then it goes to a North American City in 2028.”

That’s Olympic spirit?

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-winning journalist and author, covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. He is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians. Follow him @enotsgnivil