July 27, 2015

Toronto should NOT bid for the Olympics

by Dan Bilicki In: Olympics

In the afterglow of the Pan Am Games and the success that it was in Toronto, there has been a movement towards something that is a bit ridiculous: Thinking the city can handle an Olympic Games.

While there is no country that supports its athletes like Canada does, the decision to bid for either the 2024 or 2028 Games needs a sober second thought.

Right now we’re basking in the triumph of our best ever showing at the Pan Ams, finishing with the second most medals behind the U.S. and even beating our southern rivals in many head-to-head matchups.

We watched stars be born and fostered hope for next year’s Olympics in Brazil. But, it should be noted, Canada sent their best of the best to these home games, other countries did not. We didn’t see even a fraction of the best American athletes and they still wiped the floor with us in medal count.

If you think that Canada has a shot at winning even a tenth of the medals that we won this year down in Rio 2016, you’re insane.

So let’s take a step back from the praise train for second.

While the Pan Ams ran pretty smoothly, they came with many problems in the lead-up.

Venues and athlete housing ran way over budget before they were even completed. Executives running the Games left before they even started. If there was any improvement in infrastructure for these Games, I can’t find it.

And to think that the amount of money spent on the Pan Ams would pale in comparison to that of an Olympics is rather shocking. First and foremost would be the need for a brand new state-of-the-art stadium, which won’t come cheap – although I’m sure the Jays would love it.

You also have to remember that while there was an influx of athletes and fans into the city, the amount that would come for an Olympics is far more. Can our city handle that amount of people? Moreover, can the TTC and our already-clogged roadways handle it?

While the HOV lanes on highways helped some get around more quickly, it was a major headache for the people living here – and apparently will continue to be.

But honesty, the biggest issue here is money.

A quick look at recent Games will tell that there has been a lot more hosts that have gone into the red than the black when it comes to the final ledger. While some having claimed profit – Sochi, looking your way – these largely discount the amount of money that come from federal and provincial funds, not just municipal.

When you consider a bid alone for the Olympics would cost roughly $50-75 million, could you not think of a lot better ideas of what to do with that money when our city is always crying out for fixes everywhere?

While some claim that hosting a Games – or even bidding for it – would help set some projects in motion, that’s purely speculation.

Simply, it’s not financially feasible to host an Olympic Games in this era.

Just look at what Boston mayor Marty Walsh did on Monday – refused to sign the host contract for a bid for the 2024 Games. He wants to make sure that he won’t be stuck with the bill if things run over – which they usually do and are almost a certainty.

Really, it’s just plain smart.

While saying that Toronto is world-class city and should host an Olympics, it’s just simply not a smart idea. Let’s just settle down and think this through before doing anything rash.

A bid for the Olympics would be like online shopping when you’re drunk – you only get regrets.

Follow me on Twitter @danbilicki

Leave a Reply