Those surveyed across British Columbia are virtually split over the possibility of returning the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games to Vancouver and Whistler in 2030, after hosting for the first time in 2010.
According to a new survey by Leger, 34 per cent of respondents across the Canadian province from December 17 to 19 said they support a possible bid to host the 2030 Games while 35 per cent oppose the project and the remaining 31 per cent are neutral.
The new results are similar to those of a poll taken by Research Co. in October that revealed a similar split of 43 per cent in favor of a bid with 45 per cent against and 12 per cent undecided. That had marked a steep decline from a poll taken last year before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.
The recent results followed an announcement by organizers two weeks ago claiming the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) were working with four First Nations leaders on a feasibility study for the first indigenous-led Games in Olympic history. The news, expected to inspire residents who have been saddened by new discoveries of atrocities at historical residential schools across the country, seems to have failed to increase needed support for the bid.
“The notion of an Indigenous- or First Nations-led bid and Games reinforced or increased polarization,” Leger’s vice president Heather Owen told the Vancouver Sun.
But the results also show that there is still time and opportunity to swing the needle to the positive side.
“I think that the 31 per cent who are neutral and don’t know yet, they’re going to be a key group to be understanding how to engage,” Owen said.
A further polling question revealed 66 per cent of respondents believe that the Games would be a significant investment largely borne by public entities including the provincial and federal governments. That’s a notion that’s contrary to all previous bid messaging suggesting the Games could leverage exiting facilities to remain low-cost and privately funded.
First Nations leaders will meet with the COC and are expected to determine a course of action after the Beijing 2022 Winter Games that will be staged in February. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) have not set a timeline for the awarding of the 2030 Games despite having already allocated the 2032 Summer Games to Brisbane earlier this year.
The IOC has entered into private dialogue with interested parties and claims it will award the Games once the right partnership is found. That should be a signal for Vancouver bid officials to organize quickly and try to bolster public support as soon as possible.
A delegation representing Salt Lake City is traveling to the Beijing Olympics to push for its possible 2030 bid, and will follow that up with a planned visit to IOC headquarters in Switzerland in the spring. The Utah bid has polled public support in the high 80’s and could be considered a front runner in the race.
Projects from Sapporo in Japan and Pyrenees-Barcelona-Zaragoza in Spain are also underway, but both are expected to measure uncertain public support in the near future before moving forward.
Ukrainian Sports Minister Vadym Huttsait said this week that his nation intends to bid for the 2030 Games as well, and that officials have already entered the IOC dialogue process.
The Games following Beijing 2022 are scheduled to take place across Northern Italy as part of the Milan-Cortina 2026 Games.