Friday, August 12, 2011

No 2020 Olympic Games Bid For Toronto

We learned today that there will be no bid for the 2020 Olympic Games for the City of Toronto.

News report on this from the CBC yesterday.

I have mixed feelings about all this.

As a life long athlete, and huge fan and supporter of many Olympic Sports, and as someone who counts a number of Olympic athletes as friends, including some medal winners, I am normally first in line to support the Olympic movement and the games. They could potentially be a great thing for Toronto, the GTA and sports in those areas and Canada. However, Toronto has been down this road before - twice, in fact and lost. Millions have been spent on two Olympic Games bids that the city ended up losing for the 1996 and then the 2000 Games. Each bid had big promises for large, and massive investments in city and sports infrastructure. City and sports infrastructure that was sorely needed back then, and is even more desperately needed now!

Would third time lucky be the way for Toronto? Hard to know. There seems to be as much opposition for these things in Toronto and the GTA, as there is support. No real surprise in the "No", response for the bid, from Toronto Mayor Rob Ford - this is a man that has no vision or plan for the city of Toronto other than eliminating "Gravy" at City Hall and balancing the city's budget. Support for this from Mayor Ford was DOA! Not sure what this Bid Exploratory Committee headed up by Bob Nicholson was thinking.

Another troubling bit of information is that while the economics of Big Games and sports events like the Olympic Games is much better today than it was for the disastrous money pit that the Montreal Games left( TV and ad revenue is much higher - in the $Billions and shared with host city & organizers), it's still not as rosy as people make out. The economic up-side, for sports events on this scale, are most often grossly over estimated. Politicians, promoters, and supporters of these events would do well to be honest with the public and advertise events on this scale, when all is said and done, as slightly better than break-even at best. The real up-side, studies have shown, is more the psychological boost and shot-in-the-arm-pride, that a region or a nation gets from hosting them. Think of the post-Vancouver Olympic Games buzz - although one wonders what the mood might have been had we lost that Gold Medal Hockey game!!

We tried twice, and lost. Should we try again for the Olympic Games? What do you think?

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