Olympics? Commonwealth? Invictus? B.C. considering games bids to boost pandemic recovery

·3 min read
Welcome Poles and Indigenous performers appear at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.
Welcome Poles and Indigenous performers appear at the opening ceremony for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics.

(David Hecker/AFP via Getty Images - image credit)

Could British Columbia go back to the future of Olympics and Commonwealth Games hosting as a way to boost the province's pandemic recovery?

Premier John Horgan says he is all for it — and especially keen on bringing the Invictus Games to Vancouver Island — as long as the private sector leads the way.

"We're looking at a number of initiatives to kick start welcoming back the world to British Columbia," he said.

Horgan was addressing an op/ed in the Vancouver Sun by Victoria businessman David Black, who is the organizing force behind a bid to bring the 2026 Commonwealth Games to Victoria and Vancouver.

"COVID-19 has hurt B.C. badly," wrote Black, who has chaired two previously unsuccessful Victoria Commonwealth Games bids.

"During the next few years, the [2026 Commonwealth] Games will employ a lot of people, support a lot of local businesses and promote tourism worldwide. But after 2026, B.C.'s tourism will increase dramatically because two billion people will watch our sport-streaming online. Two billion people."

Victoria hosted a successful Commonwealth Games in 1994.

Rob Livingstone, producer of GamesBids.com, said a 2026 Commonwealth Games bid by B.C. makes a lot of sense because the sanctioned Canadian bid from Hamilton is in trouble after the Ontario government chose not to support it due to a conflict with the FIFA Men's World Cup.

"Other bids from Australia and other places have backed away so the Commonwealth Games Federation is in a very awkward spot where they don't have anyone stepping up host in 2026," he said.

2030 Vancouver Winter Olympics?

Horgan said there is also preliminary discussion with volunteers and the private sector about bringing a second Winter Olympics to Vancouver to take advantage of facilities built for the 2010 Games.

Livingstone believes a Vancouver 2030 bid would have a good chance of succeeding.

"[2010] were definitely successful Games in the [International Olympic Committee] books — I know it went over budget but not as much as other places, so that's a plus," he said.

"And the IOC is in a new mode where they don't want a lot of infrastructure built because of the risk and expenses involved. So now they're talking about using venues that already exist, where they exist."

Hosting Commonwealth and Olympic Games would require some public money for infrastructure and facility upgrades.

But Livingstone says the Invictus Games, which supports the recovery of wounded and sick servicemen and women and respect for veterans, could be held in existing facilities without infrastructure investment.

"It was very popular in Toronto [in 2017]," he said. "A lot of athletes and family came so it was definitely a big boost to the local economy."

Victoria lost out to the Hague, Netherlands, in hosting the 2020 Invictus Games. But Horgan says he'd like the region to take another shot.

"The Invictus Games speak about participation, courage and overcoming extraordinary obstacles; those are just the types of things British Columbians have been focusing on over the past 12 months," he said.