With just one week left before the deadline, Toronto Mayor John Tory and Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne say they are still missing key information they need in order to decide whether to put in an Olympic bid.
As cities such as Los Angeles and Paris move further ahead with their Olympic planning, Mr. Tory and Ms. Wynne revealed on Tuesday that they still do not have answers to crucial questions, including a cost estimate for hosting the Games and whether infrastructure from the recent Pan Am Games could be reused.
The deadline to express interest in bidding for the 2024 Olympics is Sept. 15.
"There are a lot of questions that haven't been answered, and it's a very short period," Ms. Wynne said after a meeting with Mr. Tory.
In order to formally submit a bid, Toronto would need the financial support of the province, but as of Tuesday the Premier said she is not yet in a position to commit. "There's no firm notion at this point about what those costs would be," she said. "There's questions about the building, the housing costs, so we don't have those answers."
Mr. Tory has said in recent weeks that he has asked for reports both from city staff and Olympic officials for answers to these questions.
But the mayor acknowledged on Tuesday that he started asking for this information only recently – largely because of the success of the Pan Am Games.
"I think, to be candid, a lot of the enthusiasm about bidding came in the wake of the very successful Pan Am Games," he said. "I don't apologize for a second for the fact that we were a bit behind on that, because nobody had really been pursuing this until quite recently."
Throughout the Pan Am Games in July, the mayor was asked about the possibility of bidding on the Olympics, but he repeatedly deferred those questions, saying any discussions about the Olympics should wait until after the August Parapan Am Games.
If Mr. Tory decides to move forward with an expression of interest by Sept. 15, city council would still have to vote to approve an official bid.
Meanwhile, Los Angeles and Paris have been putting together detailed bid plans.
Paris formally announced its bid in June, and recently launched an ad campaign to promote and raise funding for the bid.
And last week, L.A. city council formally approved its bid as the U.S. candidate for the 2024 Games. In the days since, Mayor Eric Garcetti has travelled to Switzerland to meet with International Olympic Committee officials and announced that the city already has 85 per cent of its venues planned or in place.
At least one expert called it "extremely unusual" for Toronto to be still seeking answers to such basic questions so late in the process. "So many cities have been preparing for it for so long," said Janice Forsyth, the former director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at the University of Western Ontario.
Ms. Forsyth blamed the IOC, and recent changes the organization made to the bidding process, in large part for Toronto's uncertainty. As a result of these changes, she said, there is ongoing uncertainty around how to interpret the new rules.
On Tuesday, Mr. Tory referred to some of that uncertainty himself. "Even when you try to collect that information on how much it costs to put on an Olympic Games, or what the security costs are, or who backstops it, there a variety of answers you get depending on who you ask."