Toronto Mayor Urges Caution On 2022 Commonwealth Games Bid

Reporting From Toronto, Canada – Toronto Mayor John Tory Sunday urged City Council to proceed with “caution” against rushing into a bid to host the 2022 Commonwealth Games.

Toronto, Centre of Southern Ontario 2015 Pan Am Games Bid
Toronto considers bid for 2022 Commonwealth Games

Tory said “it is a time-consuming, complex undertaking requiring years of preparation and unknown expense. I believe any move to proceed with a bid on these games will require great convincing.”

City Councilor James Pasternak, in a motion to be heard in chambers Tuesday and Wednesday, has asked the city to investigate a possible bid for the 2022 Games – an opportunity that became available earlier this month when Durban in South Africa was stripped of the Games after missing critical milestones and payments.

Pasternak told “Because of the turmoil of Durban being stripped of its ability to host, then we really need our city manager to figure out how we can submit a bid, if there is time, and whether there is an opportunity to submit a bid, and how much money it would cost to forward.”

“It was unfortunate that we were not able to bid for the 2025 International Exposition, and it was unfortunate that we were not bidding for the [2024] Olympic Games.

“It could be a great boon for athletics and sports in Toronto, it will put Toronto on the world athletic map as a great place to host international meets and competitions, and it will be great for tourism.  It’s proven to be a great event to host and a great boost for the cities that host it.”

Pasternak said Glasgow enjoyed increased tourism benefits when the Scottish city hosted the Games in 2014.

“We have the experience, we’ve had some great success with the Pan Am Games,” Pasternak said and added that with recently completed transport infrastructure projects and those planned for completion prior to 2022, along with the venue legacy from the Pan Am Games in 2015 “Toronto can be ready, can be great hosts at minimal costs.”

Toronto Mayor John Tory
Toronto Mayor John Tory

Mayor Tory said in a statement “this is not as simple as saying ‘We have all the right facilities so let’s do it.'”

He pointed to a broader strategy the city is undertaking to explore international hosting opportunities and that any bid for such events are carefully considered and well-planned.  Tory withheld a bid for the 2024 Olympic Games just hours before the deadline explaining that the city was not prepared enough to commit to the process.

The Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) has yet to set a process or timetable for selecting a replacement host.

Preparations for the 2022 Games would need to take place within five years instead of the usual seven, due to Durban’s exit, which will create additional challenges and risks for any city wishing to host.

Pasternak said that shouldn’t be a concern for Toronto as “a lot of facilities are ready to go.”

The most challenging venue required for the Games are athletes accommodations, and those built for the Pan Am Games are already being sold to new tenants.  Pasternak suggests that instead organizers could use University residences, that will be vacant during the summer, to serve as the Athletes’ Villages.

“There are also various Condominium and town home developments going on in the city which there may be an opportunity to use them as the first occupants and then revert them back to the owners,” he said, “so we have to be creative we have to have an open mind.”

The councilor also said that a financial partnership with the provincial and federal governments will be essential for any bid to move forward, but not a referendum.

Pasternak told “I don’t think you need a referendum to host an international athletic event, it’s something that you would hold public consultations on, you would ask the various representatives in the three levels of government if they’ll support it, and see how you may be able to host the Games in the most cost effective way possible.”

Durban was elected host city unopposed in 2015 after Edmonton in Canada dropped out of the race so that it could instead focus on recovery from dropping oil prices.  But with the CGF back in the hunt for a host two years later, Edmonton is once again considering a bid along with British cities Liverpool, Birmingham, Manchester and London as well as Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi.  Australian cities Melbourne, Sydney, Perth and Adelaide have also voiced interest but Australian Commonwealth Games officials have said a bid is unlikely with Gold Coast already playing host to the 2018 edition of the Games.

Liverpool and Birmingham are considered to have an advantage over the other cities since they’ve already been preparing to bid for the 2026 Games.

A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of 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.

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