Commonwealth Games Association of Canada CEO Lashes Out at Criticism Over Halifax's Demise

Shortly after the collapse of Halifax’s bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games, I used my monthly column in the SportDecision newsletter to discuss some frustrations that some of my readers and colleagues had about how the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada (CGC) handled the situation and the overall bid process. The collapse was a major failure that could have a lasting impact on amateur sports in Canada and potentially future large-scale bids, and it was time to take a hard look at what went wrong and how it can be corrected for the future.

Yesterday, SportDecision published an official response to my piece from CEO Thomas Jones of the CGC. While a response to such a critical piece is both expected and welcome, I was disappointed with the quality of the letter that seemed desperately defensive and lacking of any relevant answers that would support his argument. His unfounded shots at my credibility come even as he admits that the CGC is “acknowledging its shortcomings, and taking decisive steps to apply the lessons learned going forward” – almost identical to my conclusion that the “CGC will quickly determine where they went wrong and initiate the change required.”

While Mr. Jones’ letter seems in its entirety to be an attack on my credibility – I have indeed never met or spoken to this man, or even exchanged emails. His comments and suggestions about what I have or have not considered and whether I have made certain assumptions or not, put his premise in a vulnerable position.

Please read my original piece and the official CGC response letter below and then continue to read what I believe to be the key unanswered questions.

CGAC to Blame for Halifax Failure

Find the comments and analysis of Robert Livingstone from about major sports bids every month in SportDecision.

March 2007 – “Here is where it all begins” has become an ironic epitaph that can now be found when surfing the Web site of Halifax ’s failed 2014 Commonwealth Games bid; below it is a letter from bid CEO Scott Logan that explains his organization’s withdrawal, but fails to answer many key questions.

The phrase, meant to be an inspirational message designed to bring athletes and facilities to Nova Scotia, can now be used to indicate the starting point of certain reform within Commonwealth Games Canada (CGC). The bid’s failure has exposed many weaknesses with Canada’s participation in the Commonwealth Games bid process, most clearly the failure of CGC to recognize the rapid growth of the Games, its demands and the national association’s responsibility to become integrally involved in the process from start to end.

Even within the last few years, the Games have grown to a much larger scale with more athletes and more sports; costs for security and transportation have increased and the emphasis on sustaining the environment has added additional overhead to preparations. As a result, hosting the Games has moved beyond the financial reach of most Canadian cities, obviously including Halifax.

Sadly, Halifax’s three domestic competitors had access to more financial resources and would have still been in the race today if they had been chosen instead. York Region (part of the Greater Toronto Area and a bid that would likely have gone on to be known as Toronto 2014), Ottawa and Hamilton all have a greater population base and would have been supported by the province of Ontario. The previous two Commonwealth Games were held in Manchester, U.K. and Melbourne, Australia and had access to huge populations. Similarly, the next instalment in 2010 will be held in New Delhi, India.

Unfortunately when bids are conceived, they are often driven by the dreams of municipal leaders who don’t have the experience and understanding of what is required – or they simply get bad advice and lack the initial resources to make the right decisions. This seems to have been the case with Halifax’s bid and a start-up team that grossly underestimated what was required until skilled resources were brought on board to shed some light. But by then, it was too late.

It is CGC’s responsibility to provide the initial resources required to assess and qualify a bid – then to nurture and deliver the selected Canadian bid to the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF). It seems they failed on both accounts and at the end they must take full responsibility for that failure.

The CGC will quickly determine where they went wrong and initiate the change required, but unfortunately they must wait another four years for the opportunity to bid again. Don’t expect the CGF to automatically send the 2018 Games to Canada though. This opportunity is now gone and Canada is owed nothing.

Robert Livingstone,

Commonwealth Games of Canada Response

May 2007 – Commonwealth Games Association of Canada (CGC) asked SportDecision for the right to respond to the recent article CGAC to Blame for Halifax Failure from Robert Livingstone – . Here is the official answer from Thomas Jones, CEO, CGC :

To Alain Hotzau – SportDecision Editor:

A column in your April newsletter may have left readers with an inaccurate and unbalanced view of Canada’s Bid for the 2014 Commonwealth Games. While the author, Robert Livingstone of, is entitled to his opinion, his conclusions, in many cases, are based on factual errors and flimsy speculation.

Firstly, Mr. Livingstone pins most of the blame for the failed bid on the Commonwealth Games Association of Canada (CGC). There can be no doubt that CGC must accept its share of the responsibility for the demise of the Halifax 2014 bid – and we have publicly done so on numerous occasions.

But it is na

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