Canadian Olympic, Paralympic committees ask B.C. government to reconsider 2030 bid

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees are asking the B.C. government to reconsider its stance on a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

Province announced last month it wouldn't support effort for Indigenous-led Games

Canadian Olympic Committee president Tricia Smith, far right, and Canadian Paralympic Committee president Marc-André Fabien, not pictured, released an open letter to elected B.C. official on Monday asking the province to reconsidering funding a bid to host the 2030 Olympics and Paralympics. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press)

The Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees are asking the B.C. government to reconsider its stance on a bid to host the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics.

On Monday, weeks after the provincial government announced it would not support the bid, the organizations released an open letter to elected officials in B.C., reinforcing the virtues of an Indigenous-led Games that would reuse venues from the 2010 Olympics.

The letter, signed by COC president Tricia Smith and CPC president Marc-André Fabien, stated "surprise" at the rejection and called for an in-person meeting with all parties.

"With the feasibility work completed and a draft proposal submitted, we expected the next step to be a face-to-face meeting with all parties to discuss the costs and benefits, priorities, and possibilities," it said.

"The B.C. government has not yet given any of the parties, despite attempts by us and the Nations, an opportunity to have this discussion."

The bid group was led by the Lil̓wat7úl (Líl̓wat), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations, in addition to the COC, the CPC and the municipalities of Vancouver and Whistler.

Only the COC and CPC signed Monday's letter.

The group had been asking for $1.2 billion in government funding. It projected total costs up to $4 billion, including private investment.

However, the province said the financial commitment would jeopardize its "ability to address pressures facing British Columbians right now."

"We know that this decision is disappointing for everyone that put so much hard work into the bid, but supporting the proposal any further would require dedicated and substantial provincial resources across government, while there are many competing priorities and challenges to be addressed," read a statement from the office of B.C. Legislative Assembly minister Lisa Beare to CBC Sports.

"The Cabinet decision is binding."

While the official bid process has yet to begin, efforts from Sapporo, Japan, and Salt Lake City, Utah, appeared to be leading contenders alongside B.C.

Reconciliation through sport

The Canadian bid was unique in how it planned to display reconciliation through sport.

"Among the many things we have learned over this past year working with our First Nations partners is that respect for process and protocol is important, and that collaborative dialogue is critical in decision making," the letter said.

The COC and CPC signed an agreement to work with the Nations in February. Along with the municipalities, they released details of the hosting concept in June.

The letter states that the groups were assured by then-Premier John Horgan in Fall 2021 that the province would be open to the idea.

But just one week after current Premier David Eby won leadership of B.C.'s New Democrat Party, the province issued its rejection.

Musqueam Indian Band Chief Wayne Sparrow told CBC's On the Coast host Gloria Macarenko then that "It would've been nice to sit down with all parties involved" but that the province's decision "squashes it."

The Líl̓wat, Tsleil-Waututh, Musqueam and Squamish First Nations have been working together with the Canadian Olympic Committee as part of an Indigenous-led bid to host the 2030 Olympics and Paralympics. But today, B.C. Government has announced they will not be supporting the bid. For more, we're joined by Musqueam First Nation's Chief Wayne Sparrow.

The bid planned to reuse venues from Vancouver 2010, with costs limited to updates instead of entirely new arenas. The bid also promised to be "climate positive."

"This bid places climate action, fiscal responsibility, accessibility and the housing and development needs of the host communities at the heart of the Games concept," the letter said.

The COC and CPC said they're only interested in moving forward with the bid "if it makes sense to do so."

"This project needs to be about practical realities and challenges. It also needs to be about a vision for our country. To make that determination it requires a full review and dialogue with all parties at the table. A unique project of this nature, led by the potential Host First Nations, deserves a deeper look."

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