Possible regional Vancouver 2030 Winter Olympic bid could be “a year off” according to city manager

Vancouver city staff have reported that a potential 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games bid will only move forward as a regional project and will be led by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and not the city itself.

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)
Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

The report drafted in November and discussed in Vancouver city council Wednesday also revealed that it is too soon for the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) to discuss a potential bid, and the governing bodies won’t likely address a proposal until after the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games now scheduled for July and August this year.

Deputy city manager Karen Levitt told city councilors that any COC work on a bid is “about a year off.”

“Their focus remains centered on adapting to the challenges of the pandemic and safely preparing Team Canada athletes for success at the Games in Tokyo (2021) and Beijing (2022),” the report reads.

Read Vancouver 2030 Staff Report (November 2020)

Vancouver’s interest in hosting a future Winter Games emerged in February last year on the 10th anniversary of the city’s successful staging of the 2010 edition.  A motion to consider a bid was raised in city council, but discussions have been postponed multiple times due to the coronavirus pandemic and a focus on the related health and economic emergency.

A potential 2030 Vancouver Games would look different than in 2010 due to recent International Olympic Committee (IOC) reforms that allow for more creative and flexible project proposals to create sustainable and cost efficient hosting plans.  The ‘host city’ concept has been abandoned in favor of ‘host region’ terminology that allows jurisdictions to use more venues where they already exist.

“The opportunity to explore the potential of hosting a future Winter Games in British Columbia is a coordinated regional discussion, and will not be lead or the sole decision of the City of Vancouver,” the staff report explained.

“At the appropriate time, the COC and Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC) would invite the City of Vancouver, local First Nations, regional municipalities, the provincial government, and the federal government to discuss the opportunity of a potential Games bid.  The COC has also committed to invest in early phases of Games concept development.”

The staff report confirmed that following a pre-pandemic evaluation, the COC identified that the Vancouver region “would be the strongest candidate (in Canada) for a future Winter Olympic Games based on a set of evaluation factors.”

Milan Cortina 2026 Winter Olympics and Paralympics winning logos revealed

No group has been sanctioned to act officially on behalf of the city, but city managers say that local discussions can continue until the COC is ready to engage, and that city council will continue to receive updates on any developments as they occur.  First Nations groups have already been engaged by the city on a potential bid.

Under the new IOC reforms, there is no set schedule for the awarding of the Games.

In January 2020 the IOC announced that bids from Sapporo, Pyrenees-Barcelona and Salt Lake City were involved in ‘continuous dialogue’ with interest in hosting a future Games but there has been no official comment from the Winter Games Future Host Commission since, other than an indication that Vancouver representatives have added their interest.

Last month the IOC sent a stark signal that the typical rigid timetable really has been eliminated when officials suddenly announced that Brisbane in Australia would be the preferred candidate to host the 2032 Summer Games.  The proclamation virtually assures that Australia will be hosting its third Games without contest, after officials gather the signatures required to make it so.

In the past, Games were awarded by vote about seven years ahead of the opening ceremony.

The next Winter Games is set to be staged in Beijing in 2022 and Italy’s Milan Cortina will host in 2026.

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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