Vancouver City Council Wednesday voted 7-4 in favor of referring a motion, designed to investigate the feasibility of a 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid, until the first quarter of next year.
The decision, according to City Councillor Melissa De Genova, will allow city staff time to prepare a preliminary report and give members of the general public the opportunity to register to speak to Council and weigh in on the debate.
If approved next year, the motion will prompt staff to engage stakeholders including the provincial and federal governments, the Canadian Olympic Committee and First Nations leaders – to gauge interest and potential support of the project.
Vancouver 2010 Olympics Chief John Furlong first suggested the city move forward with a 2030 bid last February on the 10th anniversary of the Games. He proposed an efficient and sustainable Games leveraging legacy venues with a focus on renewing the infrastructure.
Backed by civic leaders, De Genova tabled the motion in March asking to engage city staff and stakeholders to investigate the feasibility of a bid. However, the April 1st council meeting that was set to hear the motion was canceled as the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns emerged.
It was recently re-added to Wednesday’s meeting agenda, but speakers were not able to join, De Genova said.
Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart supported the referral, explaining that there was interest in investigating a possible bid but added “we are just swamped with things right now.”
Councilor Jean Swanson was among those who opposed the referral, suggesting that more focus should be put on homelessness and the environment.
She said “I think we should stop this right now.”
Sarah Kirby-Yung who supported the referral offered the opposite perspective indicating that with a Games there could be “an opportunity for really meaningful legacy such as housing.”
In January the International Olympic Committee (IOC) confirmed Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain, Sapporo in Japan and Salt Lake City in the United States were involved in discussions with the future host commission about bidding for the 2030 Winter Olympics, or another future edition.
In October the Salt Lake City bid committee said it is continuing to organize, but the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) has yet to identify whether 2030 or 2034 will be the target Games.
Spanish officials last month said the 2030 bid would pause until it can receive a government consensus on support for the project.
Sapporo’s bid has remained silent throughout the pandemic as the Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) instead focusses on delivering the delayed Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
There is no set timetable for the bid process. Prior to the pandemic, IOC President Thomas Bach commended the bid representing former 1972 host city Sapporo and felt strongly that the 2030 Games could be awarded as early as this year. But as the sport world struggles to recover from the ongoing impacts of the coronavirus pandemic and the IOC deals with the delivery of two Games in the next 18 months, the election of the 2030 host won’t likely occur before 2022.
Beijing is set to become the first two-season Olympic host when the Chinese capital stages the Winter Games in 2022.
A senior producer and award-winning journalist covering Olympic bid business as founder of GamesBids.com 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.