Marcel Aubut, COC president, to back Toronto bid for 2024 Olympics
Canadian Olympic Committee head says he’ll use 'whole power of my office'; needs mayor's support
The speculation is over.
Marcel Aubut left no doubt what his intentions are regarding the possibility of another Toronto Olympic bid.
Speaking on the eve of the closing ceremony of the Pan Am Games, the Canadian Olympic Committee president confirmed to CBC Sports that he will "absolutely lead and advocate with the whole power of my office that Toronto becomes the host city for 2024 Olympic Games."
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Canada's unprecedented success by its athletes, along with the 1 million tickets sold at the Pan Am Games, has intensified the talk of making Toronto a potential Canadian host to an Olympic Games, joining past hosts Montreal (1976), Calgary (1988) and Vancouver (2010).
"I think there's only one spot that [the Pan Am Games] could lead us and to me that's the Olympic Games," Aubut said at the CBC headquarters in Toronto.
Aubut said the timing is right for Toronto to go ahead with a bid.
Hopeful cities interested in landing the 2024 Games have a Sept. 15 deadline to submit their letter of application to the International Olympic Committee.
Through a voting process, the IOC will then choose the winning city in the summer of 2017.
The letter sent to the IOC needs the signatures of both Aubut and Toronto Mayor John Tory in order for the city to be an official candidate for 2024. A successful bid would also need the backing of all three levels of government and corporate sponsors.
"I will have to work very closely with City Hall [and] the mayor of Toronto, who expressed a keen interest during the week, and also wait for every stakeholder, including all the politicians. I have to convince them and work with them to make this happen," Aubut said.
John Tory to move 'very quickly'
In light of the success of the Pan Am Games, Tory recently said the city will move "very quickly" on whether to proceed with a bid for 2024.
"We have to sit down right after these Games and prepare every bit of analysis — on the finances, on the benefits to the city, on the amount of publicity it will give us from the point of tourism," Tory told the Associated Press on Thursday.
Aubut maintains the process can't move ahead without the approval of Tory and Toronto's city council. He needs the mayor to sign a letter to push the application forward by Sept. 15.
Bob Richardson, one of the leaders of Toronto's Pan Am Games bid and chief operating officer for Toronto's failed 2008 Olympic effort, said on Saturday that the city is in its best position to host an Olympic Games.
"The Pan Am Games have been an unqualified success," he said. "We've proven we can put on a large scale multi-sport Games. We hadn't been able to do that before, we can now say that we've done it. We have much better venues than we had before. Swimming, velodrome and equestrian here are good examples of that."
The Canadian Paralympic also pledged its support for a Toronto Olympic bid.
"Today, we join our partner, the Canadian Olympic Committee and its President Marcel Aubut, and stand tall in declaring that Toronto has proven that [it] can host a successful Olympic and Paralympic Summer Games. As such, we will support future plans in pursuing a candidacy for the city of Toronto to host an Olympic and Paralympic Games," Canadian Paralympic Committee president Gaetan Tardif said in a statement.
The 2024 Olympics bidding process has already drawn interest from five cities: Rome; Paris; Boston; Budapest, Hungary; and Hamburg, Germany.
Recent rule changes in the IOC's bidding process consider cities with existing or temporary facilities more prominently, which Toronto mostly has in place. In addition, Brazil was awarded the 2016 Olympics after hosting the 2007 Pan Am Games.
Aubut is encouraged by a recent five-day visit he hosted for IOC president Thomas Bach in Montreal. Bach travelled to Toronto twice at the beginning of the Pan Am Games, something that wasn't lost on Aubut. Aubut also cites the cities surrounding Toronto that helped stage events for the Pan Am Games as a major selling point.
"I don't think he's done that for any other country since he's been in power," Aubut said of Bach. "This [bidding process] is the new model about having the facilities in place, accessibility, control costs, and also reducing cost by inviting neighbouring cities. This is the model that is already in place for Toronto [with] 16 different mayors working together."
Toronto has failed in its bid to attract the Summer Olympics on four separate occasions: 1960 (Rome), 1964 (Toyko), 1996 (Atlanta), and 2008 (Beijing).
However, Aubut remains confident that Toronto can win.
"Toronto has all the qualities to beat the other five cities," he said.
With files from The Associated Press