Jun 18, 2007

Olympics... and what it can do for a city.

In a rather informative discussion with my cousins, I recently got to chat about the failed Olympics bid of what would have been next year, and what it would have meant for Toronto.

To remind you all, Toronto was up against Beijing, Paris, Istanbul and Osaka for the Summer 2008 Olympics back in 2001. Beijing won both rounds, in what was rumoured to be a very controversial decision, as Human Rights issues and Pollution were significant concerns. A rumour spread saying that Beijing spray-painted their grass to be green during the visit from the IOC panel. According to gamesbids.com, "The one-sidedness of the final vote did not fairly represent the relative quality of the bids, raising further suspicion on the IOC".

It of course didn't help that while in Kenya, Toronto's mayor-at-the-time (furniture-salesman Mel Lastman) made the comment "I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me". (USAToday)

Oh, Mel. As the ambassador for such a multicultural, tolerant city... well, it's over now. But do you wonder what our city would have looked like if the Olympics did come to town?

While it's well known that a poorly planned Olympics can bankrupt and indebt a city for years, a well-organized one can jumpstart its infrastructure. Toronto planned on (finally) redesigning the Waterfront Promenade, an environmental clean-up of the city, and having a highly-advanced telecommunications network to broadcast it. Toronto had highest scores by the IOC in Sports Infrastructure, and better results than Beijing in Transportation Infrastructure and General Infrastructure.

But Beijing was chosen. Perhaps Toronto was seen as not needing the facelift like the Chinese capital was. Perhaps Toronto really did ruin its chances with a mouthy mayor. Or perhaps it is an entirely political decision that pretty much dooms the overlooked megacity of Canada for the next 30 or so years. Seeing as how Vancouver copped the 2010 Winter Games... the IOC won't be considering Canada for a while yet.

I'm going to do something I love reading about but would never admit to doing: compare Canada with the United States. I get a little 'middle child attention syndrome' when I think about how often we're overlooked for them. Here's what I mean.

1902 Summer
St. Louis, Missouri

1932 Summer
Los Angeles, California

1932 Winter
Lake Placid, New York

1960 Winter
Squaw Valley, California

1976 Summer
Montreal, Quebec

1984 Summer
Los Angeles, California

1988 Winter
Calgary, Alberta

1996 Summer
Atlanta, Georgia

2002 Winter
Salt Lake City, Utah

2010 - Winter
Vancouver, British Columbia

By all accounts, the States will have another games before Toronto gets another shot at the Olympics. And it's a shame, really, because with a slow-moving municipal government like ours... well, an Olympics might actually talk it into doing something.

So after examining our record - at least 12 years between games, at most 22... - I'd predict that Toronto will be hosting the 2024 Summer Olympics.

We might even have a Waterfront before then... but don't hold your breath.

1 comment:

Carlos said...

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