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2030 Winter Olympics bid could see cities across BC involved

BC-wide Olympic bid?

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog was enthusiastic after a meeting Tuesday between Vancouver Island officials and proponents of a B.C. bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

Krog said the Olympics promote world peace and will boost the economy and help open up B.C. to the world again, noting the province is increasingly reliant on tourism.

“Give me a reason not to take advantage of this opportunity,” he said after the virtual meeting with lead bid proponent John Furlong. “It is positive on every level and makes sense on every level.”

The session, which also involved representatives from Mount Washington, followed a meeting last month between Furlong and lower Island business and tourism leaders and politicians. Victoria Mayor Lisa Helps called the bid plan a “recovery and community-building opportunity.”

Unlike the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, which involved only the Lower Mainland and Whistler, the 2030 bid envisions sports events being held across the province, something that appealed to Krog, since more communities will benefit.

Furlong, president and CEO of Vancouver 2010, believes that approach for 2030 will set the B.C. bid apart.

“The idea of a regional Olympic Games is resonating,” said Furlong, who was Nanaimo regional director of parks and recreation from 1979 to 1987. In both the lower Island and mid-Island meetings, he said, there was “intense awareness” of the bid’s potential in terms of tourism and jobs.

Krog said he has also written a letter of support for media owner David Black’s proposal to host the 2026 Commonwealth Games in Victoria. “It’s a wonderful prospect for B.C. to host the Commonwealth Games and Winter Olympics back-to-back.”

The 2030 B.C. Winter Olympics bid calls for a mostly privately funded Games, although security costs would be largely paid for by government, Krog said.

An Insights West poll of 883 British Columbians from April 28-30 showed 55 per cent support for the idea of a 2030 B.C. Winter Olympics bid. That climbs to 77 per cent if the Games could be staged without public funding.

Furlong said he has had “very good meetings” with the province: “The province is engaged and came to the meetings prepared.”

While specific communities and venues have yet to be decided on, Furlong said he wants a rough concept plan outlined by the time the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics conclude next February. That means interested communities throughout the province have the summer and fall to develop proposals.

The vote on where the 2030 Winter Games will be held will take place in 2023 during an International Olympic Committee session in Mumbai, India.

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