The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) has recruited former Vancouver 2010 Olympic organizing committee (VANOC) Chief John Furlong to chair a new committee charged with guiding Canadian cities interested in hosting future Olympic Games.
The 65-year-old sports professional is currently executive chair of the Vancouver Whitecaps FC of North America’s MLS soccer league and previously led Vancouver’s bid for the Olympic Games and was appointed as Chief to deliver the successful event.
The COC announced earlier this year that it was considering the possibility of bidding for the 2026 Winter and 2028 Summer Olympic Games and have identified seven Canadian cities that have the necessary fundamental requirements to stage the large events. Montreal – host of 1976 Olympic Games, Toronto – Canada’s largest city and host of 2015 Pan Am Games, Ottawa – Canada’s capital, Calgary – host of 1988 Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver – host of 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Edmonton and Quebec City have been notified that they have until June 30 to provide basic information, including cost estimates to the COC should they be interesting in launching a bid.
So far only Calgary has publicly expressed interest in bidding for the 2026 Winter Games and has commissioned a study to explore the possibility. Quebec City has announced that the provincial capital will not move forward with a bid after pursuing the opportunity since losing the 2002 campaign. Toronto’s mayor stepped back from a potential 2024 Summer Games bid hours before the deadline but did not rule out a future bid.
“Our job is to help the bidding cities get to a higher place, so they can make their presentation to the COC some time next year,” The Globe and Mail reported Furlong saying Thursday while he was being optimistic of Canada’s chances on the international stage.
The committee is similar to the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) new invitation stage of the bid process that allows interested cities to open a dialog while considering a bid to assess if it’s the right fit, and without making a commitment.
Switzerland has launched a similar project to vet five regions interested in hosting the 2026 Olympic Winter Games.
The IOC and national Olympic Committees have become more careful of how they select candidates for the Games after several recent bids have been withdrawn for various reasons. Four European bids withdrew from 2022 Winter Games campaign and Hamburg was forced to drop a 2024 bid after losing a referendum in November. The United States Olympic Committee’s (USOC) 2024 candidature from Boston was cancelled last year after the public rejected the opportunity – and Los Angeles was chosen instead.
“The Games were becoming too expensive; countries were becoming fearful of bidding; a number of cities dropped out [of contention]. Countries like Norway, which has considerable skills at this. Sweden, Germany, they all walked away,” Furlong said.
The election of a new anti-bid Mayor for Rome this week has put Italy’s 2024 Olympic dreams at risk – just as they were dashed when the Prime Minister refused to support the 2020 campaign months after the application was submitted to the IOC.
The IOC will set a late 2017 deadline for applications from national Olympic committees interested in bidding for the 2026 Games. A winner will be elected in 2019.