Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Olympics in BC

In 2010 the Olympics will be in Vancouver. I think it is time to think ahead about BC getting the Olympics back on a regular basis.

The emerging rotation for the Olympics is Europe, North America, somewhere else (normally Asia). A big issue is making sure that the TV audiences in Europe and the US regularly get the Olympics in their timezone. One upshot of this is that Canada is well placed to get the Olympics on a regular basis because we are not the US and are a neutral 'other'.

So far we have had the games in 1976, 1988 and now in 2010 - over this period one in six games will have been in Canada. We will see in the summer games in Toronto in the not so far future either in 2020 or 2024. The bidding process for these games has started in Toronto. A Toronto win is likely the last time we will see the summer games in Canada for a very long time. The only other cities I see making a bid anytime in the future are Ottawa and Vancouver - maybe Calgary. There is VERY minor talk of a Vancouver/Seattle joint bid for 2028.

What Canada is well placed for is the winter Olympic games. The winter games can not be held anywhere on earth, they are limited by geographic needs, that being mountains, and climate - no winter, no games. Realistically the games should make it back to North America in 2022 and 2034. One of these games will be in Canada.

What I believe BC should be doing is grooming several mid sized cities as potential hosts for the games in the 20s and 30s. I would propose BC support Kamloops, Kelowna, Cranbrook and Courtney for potential Olympic bids.

Mid sized BC towns are at least as well placed for the games as Sochi, site of the 2014 games. Certainly they are much better choices than many of the cities making it close to the final round of selection.

One presumes that Canada will have a bid come forward from Quebec for the Winter Games, but that does not stop BC from preparing for the future.

How I see this evolving is through the government supporting the communities with the start of construction of winter Olympic infrastructure. I would like to see the province provide funding to build sliding centres, ski jumping venues and a 18 000 to 20 000 seat arena in each town.

Even if there was never any success with getting the Olympics, having four more ski jumping venues in BC means would become home to a lot more sporting events and would see world cup events being held here each and every year. There would be space to have a region with five venues (this includes Calgary) allowing for an actual circuit here as one has in Europe. All the same is true of ski jumping.

Once you get more and more international winter sporting events happening in these towns, the more realistic a successful bid becomes.

I can see BC getting the winter games again in 2030 and 2050, but some serious planning needs to start now. Some of the benefits from 2010 needs to be reinvested in bringing the games back to BC ASAP.
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