Could Vancouver become one of a select few permanent homes to an Olympic podium?
It’s an idea that’s gained currency in recent days, amid word the International Olympic Committee is considering teeing up a rotating list of permanent host cities amid a lack of volunteers to host the winter games.
Cities being floated as theoretical regular hosts include Salt Lake City and Vancouver in North America, Pyeongchang in Asia and places like Switzerland, Italy and Scandinavia in Europe.
Robert Livingstone, a producer and journalist with Gamesbids.com, said the International Olympic Committee is facing cities concerned about the economic and political fallout of hosting the games, along with the potential that climate change could remove some traditional winter cities from the map.
After last year’s Beijing Games were held almost entirely on artificial snow, the Milan-Cortina Games in 2026 will be held across a wide swath of northern Italy.
“So they’re looking for some confidence they’re going to have cities going foreword, so that’s why they suggested this permanent rotation, hoping that they won’t have to keep going through a bid process, looking for new cities and they will be able to have confidence they can host the winter games for decades to come,” Livingstone said.
Livingstone said Vancouver could fit well with the model because after hosting the 2010 games, it already has most of the venues and infrastructure it would need.
Vancouver had been seen as a contender to host the upcoming 2030 games, with a bid spearheaded by local Indigenous nations and backed by the region’s municipalities, but the province has said it will not support the proposal.
Salt Lake City is the only other known bidder that might consider taking 2030, though officials have said they favor a bid for 2034.
Cost remains a major hurdle for would-be hosts, and was cited as a key reason the B.C. government didn’t get on board with the 2030 bid.
In October, former B.C. Tourism Minister Lisa Beare said the bid was priced at about $1.2 billion with an additional billion in risk.
The 2010 games were estimated to have cost nearly $2 billion, including $1 billion in games operations, $500 million in technology, and not including infrastructure upgrades like the Sea to Sky Highway improvements or the construction of the Canada Line.
It benefitted from significant cash infusions, including more than $650 million from the IOC, $730 million in Canadian sponsorship and more than $500 million in ticket and other revenue.
B.C. Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Minister Lana Popham said for the time being, the province is sticking with its existing sports hosting policy, which weighs each event’s costs and benefits.
“Up until now we haven’t had a conversation with the IOC about this, we haven’t been invited into a conversation yet,” she said.
Potentially we’d be happy to hear about it, but we haven’t been identified as province or a country that would be in that rotation, so its early days on that.”
In the end, Livingstone said the idea of a regular rotation may not even get off the ground.
He said the IOC may have a hard time finding jurisdictions prepared to make pricey, decades-long commitments, or hold countries to them in the face of changing governments.
— with files rom Andrew Dampf, the Associated Press