Vancouver and First Nations set to announce formation of 2030 Olympic Bid Exploration Committee Friday

Representatives from four First Nations, the City of Vancouver and Town of Whistler will announce Friday an initial step towards a bid to host the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

Vancouver 2010 Opening Ceremony (IOC Photo)

According to a media advisory released Thursday and local reports, the signing of a memorandum of understanding among partners will launch the “exploration of a potential historic sporting partnership.”

The announcement is expected at the British Columbia Sports Hall of Fame Friday afternoon local time and will include Chiefs of the Tsleil-Waututh, Squamish, Musqueam and Líl̓wat Nations – First Nations from the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games – along with Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart and Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton.

Mayor Stewart, after his City Council was split over support for an Olympic bid, said last year that he would not pursue an Olympic Games that was not led by First Nations.

Vancouver 2010 Chief John Furlong, who has been pitching a new bid for the Games since last year’s 10th anniversary of the first Games said in November “First Nations businesses and tourism are all legacies that started just before 2010 and it is a difference-maker for the story that we have to tell the IOC.”

A Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid launched now would have to overcome some significant hurdles including making up ground lost to rival projects that have already been in the works for years and have been involved in the International Olympic Committee’s (IOC) continuous dialogue phase of a new bid process.

Leaders of the Salt Lake City Olympic bid, also pursuing a second Games for their city, met with International Olympic Committee (IOC) President Thomas Bach Monday and the influential Future Host Commission last month.  On Thursday Bach told that the bid leadership, organized for over two years, “were very well prepared, they were very well informed.”

Bach also said he was impressed with the “great unity and enthusiasm” among stakeholders in Utah.

The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) however have yet to decide whether they want to host in 2030, or 2034.  They will send a small delegation to the Beijing 2022 Winter Games to observe and will meet at IOC headquarters in the spring.

A bid from Sapporo in Japan is also well-developed, and last month released preliminary plans that showed a significant cost-savings over initial high-level estimates that were produced before the IOC implemented new cost-cutting measures for Olympic Games.

A joint project from Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain has also been in planning stages for several years but has been struggling with regional infighting and will likely face a contentious referendum next year.  Ukraine announced its interest this year and is in very early stages of development.

Furlong told Postmedia Thursday “there is a detailed process underway led by the Canadian Olympic Committee that is quite advanced that includes multiple B.C. communities and others.”

Poor public support is another hurdle challenging the Canadian bid with an October poll showing only 43 percent across British Columbia behind plans to host the Games for a second time.

Due to the planned use of existing facilities left as a legacy of the 2010 Games, Furlong said he believes the B.C. based Games can be financed privately, without the use of taxpayer dollars.  But according to recent polling, constituents remain skeptical with 55 percent saying such a scenario is “impossible.”

There is no set timeline for the awarding of the 2030 Winter Games.  The IOC Future Host Commission will select a preferred candidate for Executive Board endorsement and membership approval once the right partnership is found.

More to come…

About Robert Livingstone

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.