Vancouver city council this week will entertain a motion to explore a potential 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid from Canada.
On Wednesday’s meeting agenda, a motion by councilor Melissa De Genova will be heard that asks city staff to reach out to governing bodies, government partners and First Nation leaders to determine the appetite and feasibility for a bid to host what would be the city’s second Winter Games in 20 years.
De Genova first tabled the motion at a March 10 meeting but deferred comments and voting to April 1 when First Nations speakers would have been able to attend and provide input. The latter meeting was cancelled due to the Coronavirus pandemic shutdowns across British Columbia.
On the 10th anniversary of Vancouver’s first Olympic Games in 2010, Games chief John Furlong had urged the city to throw its hat in for the 2030 edition in order to leverage and renew legacy infrastructure. De Genova followed through with her motion and eight months of pandemic later she tells local media that a Games would also be a critical tool to help in the economic recovery of the region.
If city council approves the motion, Vancouver would likely face competition from a Pyrenees-Barcelona project in Spain and 1972 Winter Games host city Sapporo in Japan. Salt Lake City in the United States may also bid for the 2030 edition, but would more likely target the Games in 2034.
In January the International Olympic Committee (IOC) informally launched the race without any set deadlines, but President Thomas Bach had hinted that a winner could be chosen within a year. Now that the COVID-19 pandemic has delayed the Tokyo 2020 Games by a year and the international sports calendar has been obliterated, the IOC has adjusted its focus and will likely wait until at least 2022 before electing its 2030 host.
Last week officials from Spain admitted that the Pyrenees-Barcelona bid would be paused to allow time for government stakeholders to meet and organize.
That leaves the race wide-open for existing bids, and for new rivals to emerge. The IOC has said that there are multiple interested parties currently engaged in discussions with Host City commissions.
In March, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart was interested in moving forward with caution, suggesting “the very first thing that would need to happen, however, is that residents of Vancouver get to express their support through a referendum much like the first bid [for the 2010 Games]”.
In that first plebiscite held across Vancouver in 2003, 64 percent voted their support for the project.
The bid also fits in with the federal government’s major event hosting plan and Ottawa will likely back the project if the city can win provincial support as well. But Hamilton in Ontario could be targeting a Commonwealth Games in 2030 if the city fails to win the current 2026 bid, and that might create a struggle for available federal funds in the same year.
The province would also be expected to pitch in, and likely underwrite the costs to stage the event. While plans will focus on the use of existing infrastructure, accommodations for athletes and officials would need to be built – leaving a new legacy of housing.
The IOC reinvented its bid process last year and introduced new hosting reforms that emphasize using existing facilities with a footprint that could span regional and international borders. The wealth of winter sport facilities across Western Canada are in line with the IOC’s expectations.
Last year a joint Milan-Cortina Winter Games bid with venues across Northern Italy was chosen to host in 2026.
Beijing is scheduled host the event in 2022.