British Columbia announced on Wednesday that it would not support Vancouver’s bid, likely leaving the IOC to choose between Utah and Sapporo, Japan.
And then there were two.
Utah’s chances of hosting the 2030 Winter Games improved dramatically on Wednesday after it was announced that British Columbia will not support Vancouver’s Olympic bid.
Without that support, the peloton is now expected to be limited to Utah and Sapporo, Japan, one of which is expected to be singled out as early as December.
Vancouver made an effort to host the first Indigenous-led bid for the Olympics, but the costs and responsibilities would have fallen primarily on the province of British Columbia, and its government refused to continue the effort.
“I know the prospect of hosting these Games is exciting for athletes and sports fans. However, the province has a responsibility to weigh the benefits against the possible costs and risks of the project,” Lisa Beare, BC Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport, said Wednesday.
“There are billions of dollars in direct costs and potential warranty and indemnification risks on this project that could compromise our government’s ability to deal with the pressures that British Columbians are currently facing.
Beare estimated the province had to pay $1.2 billion in direct costs and $1 billion in liability risk, according to the Vancouver Sun.
The International Olympic Committee requires its hosts to have an entity that will take legal responsibility and serve as underwriter of the Games. BC did it for the 2010 Olympics. Its reluctance to do it again doesn’t let Vancouver DOA out of the running, but it’s a significant stab in the heart. The IOC deadline for naming this entity is in January.
British Columbia still plans to host the 2025 Invictus Games and 2026 FIFA World Cup matches, which will also be spread across Mexico and the United States.
A spokesperson for the Canadian Olympic Committee told GamesBid.com, which broke the news, that the organization will take time to “process” the news before responding.
“The Canadian Olympic Committee (COC) and the Canadian Paralympic Committee (CPC), working under the leadership of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, believe in the strengths of this Indigenous-led process to bring the Olympic Games and Paralympic Winter Games in the region,” the organization said in a statement.
In July, Vancouver City Council approved the 2030 Games to go ahead despite a report from city staff saying they did not have enough time to compile the necessary materials for an official bid.
Still, Vancouver had been seen as a strong 2030 candidate and a key player in Utah’s bid to host its second Winter Olympics.
One of Salt Lake City’s strengths in its bid to host the Games is that it fits almost perfectly with the International Olympic Committee’s new focus on sustainability. Yet Vancouver was also a model example for this new tactic. These two venues are the only Olympic venues where 100% of the venues are still in use. As in Utah, the Vancouver Games, held in 2010, were considered a resounding success. In addition, working with local indigenous groups fits perfectly with the IOC’s core values of friendship and respect.
However, the IOC likes to spread its flagship events across different regions. And concerns had arisen that if Salt Lake City or Vancouver had been chosen as hosts for 2030, it could have scuttled the other’s hopes of hosting in 2034 – especially as Los Angeles will host the Summer Games in 2028.
Fraser Bullock, who is leading efforts to bring the Olympics back to Utah as president and CEO of the Salt Lake City-Utah Committee for the Games, said B.C.’s withdrawal underscores just how much he can be difficult to put together all the pieces to make an offer.
“I commend them for their efforts in trying to host the Games because hosting the Games is extremely difficult,” Bullock said. “So I commend them for trying. But it’s understandable why, with BC’s past, they’re pulling back. We just respect their efforts to try to host again.
Sapporo, host of the 1972 Winter Games, now Utah’s only competition, has recently had its own struggles. Only about half of people in the Hokkaido region support the organization of the Games, compared to nearly 80% in Utah. Additionally, a bribery scandal at the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo cast a shadow over another Japanese bid.
Bullock said Vancouver’s withdrawal doesn’t change how Utah will approach the bidding process.
“For us, we just keep moving forward,” he said. “It doesn’t change our path.”
Next month, the IOC’s Future Hosts Commission is expected to recommend a host for the 2030 Games to the IOC Executive Board. The management could enter a phase of targeted dialogue with a city by the beginning of December. If the city she chooses at that time is able to fulfill all its contracts and obligations, it is almost guaranteed to be designated host of the IOC General Assembly in October 2023.