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HomeBusinessB.C. stuck on the sidelines as field expands for 2030 Winter Olympics bids

B.C. stuck on the sidelines as field expands for 2030 Winter Olympics bids

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Bob Mackin

Despite lacking the required provincial backing, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) says it is still talking to the International Olympic Committee about hosting the 2030 Winter Olympics in B.C. with four first nations.

During executive board meetings in Lausanne, Switzerland on Wednesday, senior IOC officials said that members would decide the 2030 host no later than July 2024 in Paris.

BC 2030 Olympic bid logo (BC Gov/FOI)

It appeared to be a three-way race early last fall between 2010 host Vancouver, 2002 host Salt Lake City and 1972 host Sapporo, Japan until the NDP government refused in October to underwrite another Olympics. Then the IOC delayed its decision indefinitely, while beginning a feasibility study on rotating the Winter Games between past hosts. 

Chris Dornan, the spokesperson for the COC’s bid partnership with the Musqueam, Squamish, Tsleil-Waututh and Lil’wat nations, said dialogue continues with the IOC. 

“While no meeting involving the host first nations, government partners, the COC and the [Canadian Paralympic Committee] has occurred or been scheduled, we remain open to the opportunity for all partners to come together to talk about the vision for the Games, and the lasting impact hosting a Games could have on the host nations, the province and the rest of Canada,” Dornan said by email. “Without the engagement and support of the Province of British Columbia, the project will not progress.”

That marks a change of tone for the COC, which emphasized at the end of March that it was “hopeful.” At the time, Christophe Dubi, the executive director of the Games for the IOC, said he understood that conversations would take place between the COC and local authorities. 

A technical briefing did take place for two hours on April 14, between Neilane Mayhew, the deputy minister of tourism, arts, culture and sport, and representatives of the first nations, to explain the province’s decision, which has not changed. 

“Supporting the proposal would have required dedicated provincial resources across government, which are already committed to planning other near-term international sporting events, as well as expanding on services British Columbians need,” read the government statement. “Our government remains committed to the important work of putting reconciliation into action and continuing to build strong relationships with Indigenous partners.”

Vancouver is co-hosting Prince Harry’s Invictus Games with Whistler in early 2025 and B.C. Place Stadium is one of 16 venues for the FIFA 2026 World Cup. The $67 million PNE Amphitheatre is scheduled to be completed in time to act as a venue for official FIFA watch parties in three years.

The lobbyist registry shows that the most-recent COC communication with B.C. government officials was Oct. 12 when it sought $742 million. On Oct. 27, then-minister Lisa Beare announced the government had rejected the bid.

Vancouver 2030 bid logo

The COC estimated it needed at least $1 billion from taxpayers for the estimated $4 billion project, plus a guarantee that the province would pay for any deficit. It proposed reusing most of the 2010 venues in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler, with the exception of the Agrodome for curling, Hastings Racecourse for big air skiing and snowboard jumping and Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops for snowboarding and freestyle skiing. Board minutes and financial files about Vancouver 2010 remain hidden from the public at the Vancouver Archives until fall 2025. 

Groups from Sweden and Switzerland have recently expressed interest to the IOC about 2030. On Tuesday, Dubi mentioned a mysterious sixth country that he would not name. 

“But when it comes to who’s interested about which edition, there is only one, and you know this is Salt Lake City that has declared that it is very open,” Dubi said. “They’ve done a lot of work, but their preference would be for 2034, should these Games be awarded in the context of a double allocation.”

Last fall, the IOC had discussed awarding 2030 and 2034 at the same time, but Sapporo, the perceived frontrunner for 2030, paused its bid due to the Tokyo Olympics corruption scandal.

While the Utah legislature and governor have both thrown their support behind hosting in either 2030 or 2034, the U.S. Olympic Committee prefers 2034 in order to avoid sponsorship conflicts with the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics. 

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