During his state-of-the-city address Thursday, Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart acknowledged that he’s interested in discussing a second Olympic Winter Games for the city, but not right now.
Last week Stewart was among seven voters on city council to defer a motion made by Councilor Melissa De Genova to engage with government stakeholders towards a 2030 Winter Games bid. The motion will now instead be heard early next year to allow city staff and residents to weigh in on the possible project.
But Stewart said Thursday that now is the time to focus on the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the city, and not a sequel to the Vancouver’s 2010 Olympics.
“I do think the 2010 Olympics were a good boost for Vancouver and put us on the map,” Stewart said, according to the Vancouver Sun.
“But it’s pretty tough times to talk about that kind of investment when we’re in such an economic period of uncertainty.
“We should focus on recovering from COVID. When we’re all feeling more confident then I think it’s time to have that discussion.”
Stewart also underlined the importance of First Nations in planning the Games, suggesting that representatives from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations lead the bid committee.
“I have talked to the Nations about this and there’s interest there,” he said.
He also explained that he would “have to be convinced” that federal and provincial partners also support the project before moving forward.
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.
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.
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 over the next 18 months, the election of the 2030 host won’t likely occur before 2022.
The pandemic-delayed Tokyo 2020 Games will be held in July 2021. 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.