Toronto has ‘good shot’ at Olympics: Furlong
The man who helped Vancouver land the 2010 Winter Games has some advice for Toronto if it wants to be Canada’s next Olympic host city — strike while the iron is hot.
With “euphoria’’ for the Pan American Games set to reach a fever pitch this weekend — fuelled by Canadian athletes’ unprecedented success at the multi-sport event — it will be easier to rally public support for an Olympic bid, said John Furlong, who co-led Vancouver’s bid and oversaw the Games organizing committee.
Mobilizing various levels of government and stakeholders before Sept. 15, the deadline for would-be host cities for the 2024 Summer Games to register their interest with the International Olympic Committee, may prove challenging but it can be done, Furlong said.
“I do think that the timing may be right,’’ Furlong told The Canadian Press this week. “If the community decided this was the time to go for it, I think they’d have a pretty good shot.
“Because of the timing of the bids for 2024, if the city has this feeling, then it will probably have to move along fairly quickly and decide.’’
Toronto has unsuccessfully bid for the Olympics five times in the last 60 years, most recently when it lost to Beijing for the 2008 Summer Games.
The IOC rated Toronto’s 2008 bid favourably on infrastructure and technical ability, but raised concerns about its commitment to supporting sports in the community.
The Pan Am Games, which saw ticket sales surpass one million, has stirred talk of another attempt. Several published reports have estimated a bid would cost at least $50 million and a source confirmed that figure to The Canadian Press.
Some experts say local and international changes that occurred since the last bid could play in the city’s favour.
Toronto mayor John Tory has said the city now has the facilities to host international competitions and that “nothing is off the table’’ when it comes to a possible bid.
“We have to sit down right after these Games and prepare every bit of analysis — on the finances, on the benefits to the city, on the amount of publicity it will give us from the point of tourism,’’ Tory told The Associated Press this week.
The IOC recently changed its rules to encourage bidding cities to use existing or temporary facilities and to focus on sustainability and communitybuilding.
Previously, the committee preferred to see facilities and the athletes village clustered around an Olympic stadium, which Toronto pledged to build on its waterfront for 2008.