Former Vancouver Olympics committee head makes push for another Winter Games
VANCOUVER -- Is there an appetite in Vancouver to bid for another Olympic Games?
The former CEO of the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games (VANOC), John Furlong made a pitch to the business community Friday.
Furlong was the keynote speaker for a virtual event hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade (GVBOT) to discuss the potential benefits of hosting another Olympics.
“The plan for 2030 is that they be 100 per cent private-sector funded, and deliver a modest surplus,” said Furlong. “In 2010, we started at ground zero. We had it all to do. But with the experience that exists, we do not have to learn the process again. We can bring on experienced people when they are needed.”
According to the GVBOT, the 2010 games generated more than $1 billion in local development and attracted more then 600,000 visitors to the region. The games united the country and showcased Vancouver and Whistler to the world. This time around, the focus is on a more province-wide approach.
"A regional games. A B.C. games. No winter country has ever bid from such a position of strength before," Furlong said. "We can and will use existing facilities and venues and involve new communities."
In previous interviews with CTV News Vancouver, Furlong has said the work of putting together a bid to host the 2030 Olympic Winter Games has been underway for a year and a half already.
In late March, Vancouver city councillors voted in favour of asking staff to analyze the impacts of bringing the Olympics back to Vancouver. It was not a unanimous decision, however, with three councillors voting against the motion.
The motion passed with an amendment: if Vancouver is serious about hosting in 2030, it will first conduct a critical analysis of the last games the city hosted in 2010.
"We’re facing significant challenges around homelessness, around the drug poisoning crisis, around the climate emergency and more,” said Coun. Christine Boyle. “I don't think that adding the Olympics to that list is ultimately going to be helpful.”
The current estimated price tag for a 2030 games is around $2 billion. Security would be extra and there will need to be significant investment for athlete housing like Olympic Village along False Creek. Some of those costs could fall to taxpayers.
“The city’s stated plan to deliver between 70 and 80 thousand affordable housing units over the next 10 years could - in part, at least - be aligned with Olympic needs and timing, resulting in a win-win legacy for housing,” Furlong said.
But should B.C. really focus on an Olympic Games nearly 10 years away when we are still in the grips of the COVID-19 crisis?
“The timing of this Olympic initiative may provide that hopeful spark and give the community an optimistic focus: a lofty goal we can rally around, a well-funded COVID rebound and recovery initiative," said Furlong. “The Canadian Olympic Committee has been consulted and like the concept of a 2030 bid from B.C. The International Olympic Committee is also aware and very enthusiastic about a second bid from B.C.”