Mayor Drops Toronto 2024 Olympic Bid Under IOC Pressure

A Pan Am Games legacy, the Toronto sign is lit in front of City Hall (COC Photo)

A Pan Am Games legacy, the Toronto sign is lit in front of City Hall (COC Photo)

Reporting from Toronto, Canada – Toronto is out of the running for the 2024 Olympic Games.  Tuesday morning Mayor John Tory, as was expected, announced that he would not pursue a bid to host the Games.

“I’m not saying no to the Olympics, I’m saying not this time,” Tory said.

“Toronto can be an Olympic city and Toronto already is a world class city,” he said.

“I have no doubt that the Olympic Games represent an significant opportunity that would put the eyes of the world on Toronto.

“I believe that one day Toronto will be a great venue for the Olympic Games, but not in 2024.”

Tory announced the formation of an advisory group tasked to look at the merits of competing for future events including the Summer and Winter Olympics, FIFA World Cup, World Expo and other world championships – with an aim at making use of the Pan Am legacy of venues.

“If we decide to compete for these events, we will do it right,” Tory said, emphasizing that proper preparation is key.

“I have benefited from the advice and the support of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and its President Thomas Bach and the Canadian Olympic Committee and its President Marcel Aubut.”

In a statement following the announcement Aubut said “we respect the Mayor’s decision today and appreciate the thorough consideration given to a potential candidature. Thank you to everyone who supported this undertaking. We remain optimistic Toronto could and should host the Olympic Games in the future.”

On Monday the Mayor’s office announced that Tory would hold a press conference Tuesday morning at City Hall overlooking Nathan Phillips Square and the iconic Toronto sign to make an announcement about the Olympic bid.  The elaborate setting that had been described as occurring from the roof of a snack bar inspired rumours that the Mayor was set to launch a bid for the Games.

But soon after reports emerged citing various inside sources, including one from GamesBids.com, that Tory had decided against a bid and would instead announce a “no” decision Tuesday morning.

“Time was against us in building support from the community to make this work,” Tory said of his decision.

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)

Tory said that he arrived at the decision late Monday after many phone calls and a “long conference call with the IOC” Sunday afternoon.  The IOC, Tory said, made it clear to him on multiple occasions that the letter to be sent before Tuesday’s deadline would express an intention to bid.

But last week Tory used the term “expression of interest” for the same letter and advised that there would be no commitment if it were sent.

He had said “let’s be clear of what it is, it’s a letter that says we have an interest in bidding.”

“Then the really hard work begins, after that of putting together the bid if you’ve said you have the interest, where you actually have to get the governments to sign on the dotted line.”

But the language changed by Monday, impacting Tory’s decision.

Tuesday Tory said “recognizing that letter is not just some piece of paper, it’s an important letter indicating your intention to bid, and that the IOC takes that very seriously, and I confirmed that with them when I talked to them a number of times over the last few weeks – then the councilors will quite rightly ask ‘what are all the details of the bid?'”

Tory wasn’t prepared to commit City Council and other stakeholders by the letter, and he wasn’t ready to present details.

Though enthusiasm was high and support strong for a run at the Olympics following what many consider to be a very successful Pan Am Games across the City in July, the Mayor and his advisers spent time carefully examining the details of a potential bid.  But as time passed, frustration mounted, the enthusiasm led and public support dropped from the 70’s down to 50 per cent according to a poll released Monday.

The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) had already approved a Toronto bid and drafted a letter to be sent to the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirming the nomination.  The final step was to affix the Mayor’s signature and deliver the document to IOC headquarters in Lausanne by Midnight Tuesday Swiss time, the deadline for applications.

Toronto Mayor John Tory

Toronto Mayor John Tory

The COC was also ready to fund the (USD) $50 thousand application fee.

Toronto bid internationally for the 1996, and 2008 Games, both without success.  Canada previously hosted the Montreal 1976 Games as well as the Calgary 1988 and Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

At least five others cities have already submitted letters for the 2024 Games including Budapest, Hamburg, Los Angeles, Paris and Rome.  Other cities could have also quietly informed the IOC of their intentions; an announcement with the final list is due from Lausanne Wednesday morning.

Baku, Azerbaijan may be on that list.  That city was in the running for the 2020 Games after submitting a last-minute bid, and with the hosting of the first European Games in July, officials vowed to pursue the 2024 Olympic Games.

The IOC will elect a winner at its all members’ session September 2017 in Lima, Peru.

Robert Livingstone

About Robert Livingstone

Robert Livingstone is a senior editor, award-nominated 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

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