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Would you support a Canadian city bidding for the Olympics?

Categories: Canada, Community, Sports

With the London Olympic Games in full swing, there's renewed interest in bringing the Summer Games back to Canada, with Toronto being the mostly likely contender.

 Toronto will look into making a third bid for the Summer Olympics. The host will be announced in 2017. (Anja Niedringhaus/AP)The city's council voted in June to request a report from city staff on pursuing the 2024 Games.

Toronto bid to host the games in 1996 but placed third in the voting behind Athens and the eventual winner Atlanta. Toronto bid again to host the 2008 Games, but was a distant second to the eventual host Beijing.

But some city councillors are warning that Toronto could suffer an "economic hangover" after the Olympics leave town.

There is reason to worry, if the current Olympic Games are any indication. The budget for London, initially pegged at $3.8 billion, has nearly quadrupled, and some estimates from British media have set the total cost at as high as $38 billion.

Costs have ballooned since the last Summer Games hosted in North America. The 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta cost $2 billion US.

Hosting costs grew to $4.8 billion in Sydney four years later. Athens is estimated to have spent between $15 billion and $32 billion on hosting the 2004 Olympics, double its original hosting budget. Analysts said the ensuring debt contributed to Greece's already perilous financial position. British media reported that as many as 21 Olympic venues in Athens were abandoned only four years after the Games closed.

The last, and only, time Canada has hosted the Summer Games was in 1976. The Montreal Games are the most notorious example of the potential for Olympic-caused economic disaster.

The city's subsequent $1.6-billion debt wasn't fully paid off until 2006 and the centerpiece Olympic Stadium - nicknamed the Big Owe - has been plagued by problems throughout its history.

Still, proponents of the Games say that a host city can benefit in the long-term in improved investment in infrastructure.

"The Games themselves galvanize the people with the purse strings in such a way that they move forward with these big projects for infrastructural change to set your city up for the next generation," said Stephen Wenn, a professor of kinesiology and physical education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Kitchener, Ont.

Would you support a Canadian city bidding for the Olympics? Do you think the benefits outweigh the costs for a host city? Let us know what you think.

(This survey is not scientific. Results are based on readers' responses.)

Tags: Canada, Community, POV, Sports, Toronto

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