Negotiations for Vancouver 2030 Olympic bid running on tight timeline

Jul 14 2022, 11:53 pm

A new City of Vancouver staff report updating Vancouver City Council on the behind-the-scenes work on the potential Vancouver 2030 Olympic Winter Games bid suggests all parties involved need to work faster and more efficiently to make informed key decisions.

City Council will discuss the update next week, but at this juncture, they are not being asked to make a decision on whether to support the bid.

The decision on the City’s participation in the Indigenous-led bid will be made in late 2022, after the October civic election, by the next elected group that will form City Council.

The Four Host First Nations and the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) have requested the participating First Nations, the municipal governments of Vancouver, Whistler, and Sun Peaks, and the federal government to reach a multi-party agreement by December 2022, when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) is expected to make a short-list of bid cities, inviting them to enter into the “targeted dialogue” stage of international competition.

In order for the bid to proceed, the 2030 Leadership Assembly composed of the First Nations and both cities must support the bid, with no entity opposed.

For the City of Vancouver’s role, City staff state they are currently short-staffed and preoccupied with existing municipal priorities, including preparing for the upcoming civic election.

City staff believe they can enter multi-party agreement negotiations in November or December 2022 at the earliest, but this would only provide one or two months to negotiate the major terms and conditions. Instead, City staff state they would ideally have at least six months to properly negotiate the municipality’s portion of the multi-party agreement, and the event-specific technical schedules to the Olympic Host Agreement and the Venue Agreements.

The multi-party agreement will be the foundation for the Future Host Questionnaire, which is the equivalent of the former Bid Book process under the IOC’s simplified, reduced-cost reforms of bidding for the Games. If Vancouver is invited into the targeted dialogue stage, the legally binding questionnaire is due to the IOC in January or February 2023.

City staff assert they currently do not have enough information about the proposed Games’ financial, indemnification, operational, and governance models to be able to enter into the important negotiations.

City staff expect the municipal government will incur at least some of the construction costs for improving venues, such as for the COC’s proposed uses of Hastings Park — the proposed site for figure skating and short-track speed skating with the Pacific Coliseum reprising its role from 2010, curling at an upgraded Agrodome, Big Air at a temporary venue at Hastings Racecourse, nightly medal ceremonies at the new PNE Amphitheatre (already fully funded for a 2026 completion), and live site festivities across the PNE fairgrounds.

In a letter to the COC last month, BC Tourism Minister Melanie Mark signalled that they would expect the municipal governments and First Nations involved to contribute to the financial costs of hosting the Games and to publicly state their willingness to do so by August 15, 2022.

Mark has also indicated that the province needs more information on all aspects of the bidding and organizing process before it can make a decision and that at this stage of planning it should not be assumed that the provincial government will be responsible for costs and/or risks, acting as the guarantor as it did for the 2010 Games. The provincial government’s support is contingent on all parties spreading the cost and risk.

The provincial government’s Treasury Board is expected to consider provincial funding for the 2030 Games in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Mark also notes that the 2030 bid should seek more IOC-sanctioned international sporting events in BC leading up to 2030, in order for benefits to be realized early.

The IOC is slated to make its decision on the 2030 host city during its May 2023 session held in Mumbai, India.

Under the IOC’s reforms, National Olympic Committees like the COC are responsible for leading any bid from their country, which replaces the previous model of a local bid committee like what was performed for the 2010 bid.

As of June 2022, the COC has covered 100% of the costs related to exploring the feasibility of the bid, with its costs reaching about $2.5 million at the time.

Based on the IOC’s recent reforms, a further $5 million cost is expected for the actual international bidding process to come — down from over $30 million when Vancouver bid for the 2010 Games.

Earlier this month, the COC announced up to $1.2 billion in public funding would be required to cover venue upgrades (no new venues; only renovations), security, and an affordable housing component for the various Olympic Villages. The actual organizing committee budget of between $2.4 billion and $2.8 billion will be completely privately funded through IOC contributions, domestic sponsorship, ticketing, marketing rights, and merchandise.

The competition to bid for the 2030 Games is now narrowed down to only Vancouver and Sapporo, Japan.

Salt Lake City indicated earlier this month that it is now leaning more towards a bid for the 2034 Games due to the IOC’s concerns on the overlapping financial impact a 2030 Games would have with the Los Angeles 2028 Summer Olympics.

A 2030 bid by Barcelona is also no longer being considered not due to a lack of support, but because of political infighting between the host communities for the various benefits associated with hosting the Games.

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