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Toronto Olympic bid crushed by Beijing

The Story

After a week of furious lobbying and mounting optimism in Moscow, Toronto 2008 bid committee members are delivered a crushing blow. International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch announces the games will go to Beijing, China. It's a controversial decision: China is a vast, untapped sports market, but has a questionable record on human rights. As we see in this clip, Toronto is now zero for two in Olympic bidding and the team's mood isn't good. In the second part of this clip, Patrick Brown witnesses a much different mood in Beijing, where people pour into the streets in a way not seen since the disastrous 1989 protests in Tiananmen Square. The parallel is not lost on Olympic observers, who speculate about the way the Communist government will respond to the victory and the international scrutiny that accompanies it. 

Medium: Television
Program: The National
Broadcast Date: July 13, 2001
Guest(s): Mike Harris, Marnie McBean, Dick Pound
Host: Mark Kelley
Reporter: Patrick Brown, Don Murray
Duration: 5:09

Did You know?

• The cities that initially bid on the 2008 Summer Games were:

• Bangkok, Thailand
• Beijing, China
• Cairo, Egypt
• Havana, Cuba
• Istanbul, Turkey
• Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
• Osaka, Japan
• Paris, France
• Seville, Spain
• Toronto, Canada

• The Bangkok, Cairo, Havana, Kuala Lumpur, Osaka and Seville bids did not make it to the voting stage.

• In the first round of voting, Beijing captured 44 votes to Toronto's 20 (Istanbul received 17 votes, Paris got 15 and Osaka just six.)  Beijing easily won the second round with 56 votes to Toronto's 22 (Paris received 18 and Istanbul had 9.)
• Though China was challenged on its human rights record, Beijing appeared to have the backing of outgoing International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch.

• For its part, the Beijing bid committee promised that during the Games, opposition demonstrations would be permitted - literally, since they would need government approval - in "designated areas."

• The Toronto bid committee had promised a safe, athlete-centred Games, and portrayed Toronto as the anti-establishment choice.
• Paris, France was also seen as a front-runner, though privately many considered its 2008 Summer Games bid just a rehearsal for a 2012 bid against London and New York. It was considered unlikely that after Athens 2004 the IOC would award successive games to Europe.

• In June 2001 flamboyant Toronto mayor Mel Lastman made a gaffe that haunted the Toronto bid throughout the process. Commenting on an upcoming trip to Africa to promote the bid, Lastman joked, "I'm sort of scared about going there...I just see myself in a pot of boiling water with all these natives dancing around me."  Lastman apologized profusely for the insensitive remark, but IOC members continually raised the comment thereafter.

• Toronto's loss was a huge letdown for the 15,000 supporters gathered at a Toronto street party. Officials mourned the passing of what many believed to be Toronto's only chance to revitalize the derelict waterfront area of downtown. Athletes felt it was a missed opportunity to build badly needed sports training facilities east of Calgary. Others were pleased, including protest groups like Bread Not Circuses and supporters of the Vancouver-Whistler bid for the 2010 Winter Games.


Getting the Games: Canada's Olympic Bids more