Reporting from Toronto, Canada – Ahead of Monday’s meeting by Toronto’s Economic Development Committee to provide feedback to city council on whether it’s prudent for the city to bid for the 2022 Commonwealth Games, one city Councillor believes it is the right time to move forward.
“It is Toronto’s turn,” Councillor James Pasternak, who filed a motion to consider bidding for the Games, told GamesBids.com Friday.
Last month Commonwealth Games officials in Canada, as well as Australia, Malaysia and the UK said they were planning to bid for the 2022 Games – an opportunity left vacant after Durban lost the right to host after missing various deadlines set by the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). The South African city had been awarded the first Games to be hosted in Africa when in 2015 the city’s bid was unopposed.
Canadian bids have been discussed from Toronto, as well as Edmonton – the same city that had already bid for the Commonwealth Games against Durban but withdrew when a decline in Oil prices caused budget problems – and possible 1994 host Victoria.
“With all due respect to Edmonton, the good hard-working people of Toronto have supported through their federal tax dollars, major international sports in those cities and while we admire their enthusiasm for bidding it is really Toronto’s turn,” Pasternak said.
“It’s time for us to pursue a bid through [Canadian Capital] Ottawa and the provincial government.”
The Canadian Commonwealth Games Association (CGA) has reportedly asked the Federal Government for support and Pasternak said he received a memo that they are ready.
“That’s my opinion as a city Councillor. But I’m not the Mayor,” Pasternak added.
Last month Toronto Mayor John Tory urged “great caution” in moving forward with a bid and he voted against fast-tracking Pasternak’s motion in city council.
Instead on Monday the Economic Development Committee will discuss the issue and provide recommendations before the issue returns to City Council at the end of the month.
“What we need in the city is Council approval to explore our needs and work with our federal and provincial counterparts.
“We need a confident decision from the Committee on Monday. To put it on the radar screen for the City of Toronto”
“We’re going to play hardball with the provincial and federal government.
“The federal government has supported three Olympic Games, none for Toronto; two world expositions in Vancouver and Montreal, as well as previous Commonwealth Games – it is Toronto’s turn.”
Pasternak envisions a regional Games with neighboring cities such as Mississauga and Hamilton to leverage venues already built for the 2015 Pan Am Games. But with the CGF set to choose a host city by this fall, several hurdles are ahead.
“There’s a long way to go,” Pasternak said, “[the time] is very tight.”
With the city council readying for Summer recess, he hopes the private sector will step in to help prepare the necessary documents and provide funding.
A CGF statement said “an expert CGF Review Team will work with each country in the evaluation of proposals of potential host cities. This will include a rigorous on-the-ground feasibility assessment and dialogue regarding hosting capacity and capability, resourcing and legacy ambitions, before a recommendation is made to the CGF Executive Board for final review and decision.”
Interested cities from the UK include Liverpool – possibly combined with 2002 hosts Manchester – Birmingham and maybe London. Victoria and Sydney have been named potential hosts from Australia and Kuala Lumpur is being proposed to host for a second time after the Malaysian city first staged the Games in 1998.
Next year’s edition of the Commonwealth Games will be hosted in Gold Coast, Australia.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com as well as providing freelance support for print and Web publications around the world. Robert Livingstone is a member of the Olympic Journalists Association and the International Society of Olympic Historians.