Photo: BC Gov
Provincial Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture Lisa Beare.
Canadian Olympic Committee officials and four hosting First Nations on Friday declined to admit their bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics was over, despite the NDP government’s refusal to sign off on another Olympiad.
But hours later, the office of Lisa Beare, Secretary of State for Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, reiterated the decision announced the previous day.
During a press conference at the BC Sports Hall of Fame, where the bid reconnaissance was originally announced last December, Squamish Nation Council spokesman Wilson Williams said “our canoe has stalled for now.” Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow hoped the NDP would topple like FIFA did for the 2026 World Cup. After failing to agree to bidding demands in 2018, the NDP government resumed negotiations in 2021 and BC Place was named as the venue last June.
Unlike FIFA, the International Olympic Committee does not have the luxury of time. It wants to start negotiations with bidders as early as December and decide on the 2030 host by October next year. Originally she wanted to name the host in May 2023. Salt Lake City and Sapporo, Japan remain in line.
A statement attributed to Beare said the COC had set a November deadline for a funding decision. The cabinet decided it could not afford to spend time or money on other games “while there are many competing priorities and challenges that need to be addressed”.
“The Cabinet carefully considered the proposal with these timelines in mind before coming to a decision to decline our support for the 2030 bid given the significant investments and risks involved,” Beare said in a statement. “I met virtually with the hosting First Nations and the COC on Monday to share this decision on behalf of Cabinet as I am the Minister responsible for Sport. I understand that nations are disappointed with this process and I am truly sorry.”
COC President Tricia Smith said the bid team wanted another chance to bring their case to provincial and federal officials.
“That’s all we’re asking, let’s go into a room,” Smith said. “If at the end of the day it doesn’t make sense. I’m here with everyone at the table, it doesn’t make sense and we’re not moving forward.”
She said the reconciliation-themed bid was based on revitalizing the 2010 Games venues, with the exception of building new athletes’ villages, which could have provided much-needed social housing.
Williams didn’t rule out the possibility of regrouping to bid for the 2034 Games, but Smith said there would be more competition. Germany, the home country of IOC President Thomas Bach, has already announced that it will consider an application for winter 2034 or summer 2036. While Salt Lake City is in the running for 2030, it had expressed its preference for 2034, with Los Angeles already hosting the 2028 Summer Games.
Beare’s predecessor, Melanie Mark, ordered a business case from the COC and Four Host First Nations in mid-August. A government source who reviewed the latest version said it fell short of expectations as many questions remained unanswered and it was suggested local governments would bear more costs than initially envisaged.
There were also differences between what the feasibility team released in July and what was on the desks of politicians and their staff earlier this month.
For example, July estimates said the 2030 Games would cost taxpayers $1 billion to $1.2 billion to help fund venues, villages and security. The organizing committee, which is funded by payments for broadcast rights, sponsorships, ticket sales and merchandise, would be responsible for $2.5 billion to $2.8 billion in planning and running the Games.
However, the latest version of the budget said $1.309 billion would be needed from taxpayers plus $384 million for contingencies, totaling nearly $1.7 billion in public funds.
The new budget also included $150 million for legacy endowment funds and $277 million in in-kind land contributions from First Nations and communities. The grand total: $2.12 billion, estimated at $2.715 billion by 2030.
The federal government was asked to pay a 50% share of the publicly funded share and BC 35% plus a guarantee for any deficits. Federal Sport Minister Pascal St-Onge said Thursday she respects BC’s decision because an Olympics would require approval from all levels of government.
The COC proposed reusing most of the Vancouver 2010 venues in Vancouver, Richmond and Whistler, with the exceptions of the Agrodome for curling, Hastings Racecourse for big-air skiing and snowboard jumping, and the Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops for snowboarding and freestyle skiing. The proposal did not include individual cost estimates for venue upgrades, instead providing lengthy lists of work needed and desired.
The proposal, released in June, said the Vancouver Olympic Village could be built on MST Development’s Jericho lands or Heather lands. But the latest, unpublished version suggested a third option, the former Liquor Distribution Branch warehouse on East Broadway near the Rupert SkyTrain station – just over 4 kilometers from the proposed Olympic Park on the Pacific National Exhibition site.
The latest version of the bid also suggested that the Whistler Olympic Village could be built on the golf club’s driving range near Whistler Village or at Cheakamus Crossing near the 2010 Athletes’ Village.
The games are believed to have cost a total of $8 billion in 2010. The true cost is unknown because the Auditor General never conducted a post-game study, the organizing committee is not subject to the Freedom of Information Act, and its board minutes and financial files are not publicly available in the City Archives until the fall of 2025.
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