B.C. government declines support for Indigenous-led 2030 Olympic bid

B.C. government declines support for Indigenous-led 2030 Olympic bid
A bulk carrier cargo ship travels into port as a Harbour Air seaplane flies towards Stanley Park and the downtown skyline, in Vancouver, on Wednesday, July 27, 2022. The government of British Columbia will not support an Indigenous-led bid to host the 2030 Olympics in the province.

The government of British Columbia says it will not support an Indigenous-led bid to host the 2030 Olympics in the province.

Minister of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport Lisa Beare said Thursday the Games come with billions of dollars in direct costs and hosting could jeopardize the government’s ability to address pressures facing citizens.

“Ultimately, we came to this decision to not support the 2030 bid at this time,” she said at a news conference at the B.C. legislature.

“The current bid is cost estimated at $1.2 billion and an additional billion dollars in risk, and when we measured that against our government’s priorities we believe we need to focus on people.”

Beare said the government must focus its efforts and resources on health care, public safety and investing in affordability initiatives.

She said B.C. has already committed to holding the 2025 Invictus Games and being a host city for the 2026 World Cup.

The group leading the bid has estimated that holding the 2030 Olympics in Vancouver, Whistler and Sun Peaks would cost between $3.5 and $4 billion, with funding coming from a mix of public and private sources.

The Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations announced on Feb. 1 that they had signed an agreement with the City of Vancouver, the Resort Municipality of Whistler, the Canadian Olympic Committee and the Canadian Paralympic Committee to explore a bid.

The Canadian Olympic Committee issued a statement Thursday saying it was taking time to process the province’s decision and plans to respond on Friday.

“The Canadian Olympic Committee and Canadian Paralympic Committee feasibility team, working under the leadership of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, believes in the strengths of this Indigenous-led process to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games back to the region,” the statement said.

The bid for the 2030 Olympics was the first by an Indigenous-led group and several of the parties involved have said it represented a chance for reconciliation.

The City of Vancouver said it “understands and acknowledges the disappointment expressed” at the provincial government’s announcement.

“The Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action around major event hosting will form an important part of our ongoing partnership for major events to be hosted in Vancouver, based on community, respect and inclusivity,” the city said in a statement.

The Resort Municipality of Whistler said it was disappointed the bid process ended without “fulsome, all-party analysis.”

“We have very much enjoyed working with the Lil’wat, Squamish, Musqueam and Tsleil-Waututh on this inspiring effort,” the municipality said in a statement. “We remain committed to constructive dialogue and mutually beneficial partnerships going forward.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 27, 2022.

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