Toronto is mulling another Olympic bid.
City council has voted to ask for a staff report on pursuing the 2024 Summer Games after Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong, a member of the mayor’s inner circle, tacked the last-minute request onto a motion to explore a bid for the 2025 World Expo.
“I think it would be great for the city, great for the economy,” Mr. Minnan-Wong said of the Olympics. “It would create a lot of jobs and it is the number one global event that a city could host.”
Although Mayor Rob Ford’s lukewarm response sunk a nascent bid for the 2020 Games, Mr. Minnan-Wong said the mayor is open to hearing the pros and cons of chasing the 2024 event.
Mr. Ford voted in favour of the study.
“He has some reservations about it,” Mr. Minnan-Wong conceded. “I don’t think the mayor is prepared to make a decision right now. He wants to see all the facts.”
While council debated the motion, Mr. Minnan-Wong used his cellphone to call Bob Richardson, the well-connected organizer behind Toronto’s successful Pan Am Games bid.
Mr. Richardson told The Globe and Mail last fall he was assembling a campaign to bring the 2024 Games to the Golden Horseshoe.
There hasn’t been much progress since, Mr. Richardson said on Friday. But he welcomed the city’s involvement.
“I think it’s a smart thing for council to do,” he said. “I’m a believer in these projects. I think that they’re good for cities and I think it’s worth looking at.”
This would be Toronto’s third shot at its Olympic dream since losing the 1996 Games to Atlanta.
Beijing bested Toronto for the 2008 Games. A run at the 2020 event, also spearheaded by Mr. Richardson, was shelved because of Mr. Ford’s opposition.
The International Olympic Committee will select the winning city in September, 2017, two years after Toronto holds the Pan Am Games. That could give the city an edge, said Mr. Richardson, president of public affairs firm Devon Group and chair of the advertising arm of the federal Liberal Party during the last election campaign.
“Presuming that we do a good job on it, I think it’s very positive. The proof of that is in the pudding for Rio [de Janeiro.] They held the Pan Am Games and that was a huge plus for them in terms of their successful bid to host the 2016 Olympics.”
However, chasing the Olympics could jeopardize Toronto’s efforts to land the 2025 World Expo, said Kristyn Wong-Tam, the councillor spearheading that campaign.
“There is no financial wisdom to actually submitting two bids,” she said. “They’re very large undertakings. It would be a mistake to think that we can even co-ordinate two bids.”
Councillor Gord Perks, meanwhile, warned that studying either bid would be a waste of time and money.
“Things like Expo and the Olympics just suck up all the resources that we could use to make people’s lives actually better,” he said.
Two separate studies on possible Expo and Olympic bids are due in March, 2013.
Even if council decides to pursue one or both formally, Toronto still needs the support of the federal and provincial governments and key organizing committees.
With a report from Elizabeth Church