The collapse of a bid from Vancouver, Canada for the 2030 Winter Olympics leaves the International Olympic Committee (IOC) with just two potential contenders, each with its own issues that could derail those bids, too.
On Thursday British Columbia Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Lisa Beare declared the provincial government could not afford to back a Winter Olympic encore for 2010 host Vancouver.
“I just think it’s the wrong time. It is an extraordinary expense for the people of British Columbia,” Beare told reporters.
“I know that the prospect of hosting these Games is exciting for athletes and sport enthusiasts. But the province has a responsibility to weigh the benefits, costs and potential risks of the project. There are billions of dollars in direct costs, and potential warranty and indemnity liability risks on this project, which could compromise our government’s ability to deal with the pressures facing residents at this time,” Beare said.
Vancouver, along with Salt Lake City, Utah and Sapporo, Japan has been engaged in talks with the IOC this year on plans for a 2030 Games. Those discussions are supposed to lead to a single recommendation that will be presented for the full IOC to approve in 2023.
But while the remaining two contenders for 2030 are past Olympic hosts notable for facilities, experience and weather, other factors are at work as well. The Japanese bid has been tarnished by charges of corruption against a former board member of the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. While the Sapporo bid is not linked to scandal, the controversy is a reminder of the tangled world of business dealings in Japan. Japanese Olympic Committee (JOC) President Yasuhiro Yamashita speaking in Sapporo this week, pledged the JOC was committed to following ethical business practices within the committee and among its sponsors.
Until the Tokyo corruption case was revealed a few months ago, Sapporo was considered the favorite of the IOC for 2030. A possible recommendation was believed to be in the works from the IOC in December. But the campaign has become muted as the Tokyo investigation moves forward. The mayor of Sapporo cancelled plans to meet with IOC President Thomas Bach earlier this month. Sapporo is believed to still hold an advantage for 2030 if it can clear hurdles still ahead, among them the backing of the national and prefecture governments.
The issue for Salt Lake City in 2030 is the conflict with the marketing of the 2028 Summer Games in Los Angeles. Organizers remain unyielding in their efforts to keep the fund raising focus on LA28, funded entirely with $6.8 billion of private sector cash. A 2030 Winter Olympics in the U.S. would require sharing the marketing platform with LA28, a major change in plans. The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee says Salt Lake City is its choice to bid for the next U.S. Winter Games, but has not specified a date.
Leaders of the Canadian Olympic Committee and the First Nations tribes involved with the Vancouver bid are scheduled to meet the press later on Friday to discuss the developments with their bid plans. Vancouver backers are expected to say they will continue to seek another Olympics when the time is right.
It remains to be seen if another bid from Canada for 2030 could be formed in time for proper IOC consideration, such as from 1988 host Calgary.
The winnowing of the race for 2030 to just two cities continues a trend that started with the contest for 2022. Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan were the two cities left standing after a half dozen other bids dropped out along the way for 2022. For the 2026 Winter Games the only two bids came from Sweden and Italy with Milano-Cortina the winner.
With just two cities to consider for 2030, there may be talk of the IOC making a twin awarding of the Winter Olympics for 2030 and 2034, similar to the decision in 2017 to send 2024 to Paris and 2028 to Los Angeles. But the IOC president has knocked back that possibility, especially since the 2034 Winter Games are the first due to be chosen under his successor who will take office in 2025.