Canada’s largest city is one step closer to formally applying to bid for the rights to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
Earlier today, the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) voted unanimously to provide COC president Marcel Aubut the required authorization to sign a letter of interest to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Since the 2015 Pan American Games came to a successful conclusion, the COC has made it well known that it wants Toronto to bid for the Summer Games.
The vote was held between the COC’s members, which include several IOC members representing Canada, leaders of national sport organizations and representatives of the athletes’ council.
However, the letter still requires a signature from Toronto Mayor John Tory, who has been reportedly contemplating the bid in behind-the-scenes discussions.
The deadline for prospective bid cities to submit the letter of interest to the IOC is midnight on Tuesday, Lausanne time.
The estimated cost for Toronto to organize a bid could be as much as $60 million, which includes research, planning, outreach and marketing costs. The actual cost of hosting the Games, such as new transportation infrastructure and sports venues as well as Games-time operating costs, would be in the billions.
Proponents for the bid have said that a successful bid for the Games could be a major catalyst for much-needed public transit improvements and drive the redevelopment of the Lake Ontario waterfront.
But critics are warning of the high costs and Ontario’s ongoing provincial deficits, as well as the uncertainty whether the small Pan Am Games facilities meet IOC standards, even under the IOC’s Olympic Agenda 2020 reforms.
According to the Toronto Star, the City Council for Mississauga, a major suburban municipality in the Toronto area, given the lack of economic benefits it experienced from hosting the Pan Am Games and the costs associated with the Summer Games.
Former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford also chimed in negatively to the idea over similar concerns.
“I cannot emphasize enough how bad of an idea this is,” said Ford, who is currently a Toronto City Councillor. When he was Mayor, Ford vetoed an initiative to bid for the 2020 Summer Olympics, although he was supportive of an Expo 2025 bid, which was crushed by the lack of support from the federal government.
“There were multiple instances of cost overruns with the (Pan Am) Games we just hosted, and we still don’t have the final price tag yet, Ford continued. “We also don’t know whether all these brand new facilities, built with billions of hard earned taxpayer dollars, will even meet Olympic standards.”
Budapest, Hamburg, Paris, Rome and Los Angeles, which replaced Boston, have already submitted their letters to the IOC.
Preliminary applicant files are due in January 2016 and the IOC will create a shortlist of suitable candidate cities in the spring. Bid books from candidate cities must be submitted by January 2017, and the host city will be decided in an IOC session held in Lima, Peru in September 2017.