The baton relay for the 2018 Commonwealth Games came through Vancouver on Aug. 1, a week before the 63rd anniversary of the 1954 British Empire Games.
The Gold Coast Games’ baton, which contains a message from Queen Elizabeth II to be read at next April’s opening ceremony, stopped at the Empire Fields statue marking Brit Roger Bannister’s victory over Aussie John Landy in the historic Miracle Mile.
Could the Games return to British Columbia, for the first time since Victoria held it in 1994?
A Victoria committee, headed by newspaper publisher David Black, has support from Mayor Lisa Helps. But there are no funding commitments yet from the new NDP B.C. government or the federal Liberal government. theBreaker did not receive a response from the NDP government.
Federal sport minister Carla Qualtrough told theBreaker that cabinet is waiting for a formal proposal before deciding.
Durban, South Africa missed deadlines and lost hosting rights earlier this year. The Commonwealth Games Federation wants bid books in by the end of September, so it can make a decision in November. Birmingham and Liverpool are jockeying for the U.K. government’s endorsement.
“We have to factor in all the other things going on in sport and other requests that might come to the federal government,” Qualtrough said, referring to the joint bid with the U.S. and Mexico for FIFA’s 2026 World Cup and Calgary’s potential bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics.
Qualtrough said there could also be a bid for the 2030 Centennial Commonwealth Games from Hamilton, the original host.
“When a formal [Victoria bid] requrest is made, we’ll look at it seriously.”
Commonwealth Games Canada CEO Brian MacPherson told theBreaker in early July that Black’s committee is trying to craft a $700 million operations budget and it envisions using warehouses and hangars for several venues. Whether any proposed venues are in Vancouver would rely on the provincial governemnt funding and priorities.
“If and when we can sit down with the B.C. government, and if they’re supportive of this, if they have other options, we’d be more than happy to listen to them,” MacPherson said.
The Gold Coast baton also visited the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame and roof of B.C. Place Stadium, which would be a logical venue for the Commonwealth rugby sevens tournament.
Chris Shaw, the leader of the No Games 2010 Coalition that opposed the Vancouver Olympics, and Grumpy Taxpayer$ of Greater Victoria both want full transparency and a referendum on the bid. Commonwealth Games have doubled in number of athletes and sports since Victoria 1994. Organizers of the Vancouver Olympics claim they balanced a budget of nearly $2 billion, but B.C.’s auditor general never did a final report. Board minutes and financial documents at the Vancouver city archives are hidden from the public until 2025.