A grassroots coalition calling itself No Games Toronto is planning a rally for Monday and roving protests over the weekend at prospective venues that members of the Pan American Sports Organization’s (PASO) evaluation commission will be touring to evaluate Toronto’s 2015 Pan Am bid.
According to the National Post, the anti-games movement has suddenly emerged after staying silent when the federal, provincial and municipal governments endorsed Toronto’s 2015 bid last year, and when the bid was unveiled in the spring.
The National Post reports the coalition says the city and region’s $1.4 billion Pan Am and Para-Pan Am Games will divert resources away from more pressing priorities like homelessness, high tuition fees, and social housing, and leave a legacy of crippling debt.
Spokesperson Joeita Gupta, a vice president of the University of Toronto’s student government representing part time students said, “everyday people don’t need velodromes as much as they need the assurance there will be a hospital bed there when they need it. It’s unacceptable to spend billions of dollars on (a) week-long sporting bonanza when we have so many bigger needs”.
Cam Jackson, once Ontario’s minister for sport and tourism who was involved in Toronto’s unsuccessful bids for the 1996 and 2008 Olympic Games, said he doesn’t believe demonstrations will thwart Toronto’s chance at hosting the Pan Am Games. In fact, he said it may have the opposite effect the protesters are seeking when visiting officials see civil liberties on display here that might not be tolerated in the two competing cities for the Pan Am Games, like Bogota, Colombia or Lima, Peru, reports the National Post.
Sunday the “No Games Flying Squad” bus will be touring the sites close behind the PASO officials. Anti-event spokesperson Richard McKergow said “the message we want to give them is we (don’t) want the Games here. We don’t want the debt, we don’t want the police presence”.
A rally is planned for Monday at the University of Toronto’s Varsity Stadium.