A Podium of Opportunity


February 1, 2022

On this Chinese New Year and the onset of the Year of the Tiger, I’ll give you an Olympic podium of reasons why Vancouver is a very strong candidate city for the 2030 Winter Olympics.

First is the uniqueness of it being conceived as an indigenous-led bid. That is probably the gold medal reason why I would put Vancouver ahead of Sapporo or any other candidate city for 2030. Second is the legacy of Vancouver 2030. Those Games 12 years ago this month may not have left behind a huge legacy of facilities or a substantive endowment fund as in Calgary 1988. Yet the experience was and is the legacy. It was as positive as they come for Olympic Games, summer or winter. Third is the question of global rotation by the International Olympic Committee.

Let’s start with what I’ll call the bronze medal reason why Vancouver is and should be taken seriously for 2030. It’s this question of rotation. And it’s a question that answers very well for the Canadian Olympic Committee and proponents of a second Winter Olympics for Vancouver and fourth Olympics for Canada. Not since Vancouver 2010 has North America hosted an Olympic Games. That’s a golden opportunity for Vancouver 2030. By the time the year 2030 rolls around, Europe will have hosted twice (Sochi 2014 in Russia and Milano Cortina in Italy 2026). Same for Asia (Pyeongchang 2018 in South Korea and Beijing 2022 in China, the latter of which gets underway this Friday). It’s almost unthinkable – for me anyway – for the IOC to award a third Winter Olympics in 20 years to either Europe or Asia before giving North America another hosting opportunity. Even when you consider that Los Angeles will host the Summer Games in 2028, that will mean only two North American nods in 10 Olympic Games (summer and winter). That’s not enough (even setting aside for a moment the cash flow associated with the American television rights).

The sheer math of global rotation puts Vancouver in a very good position. Unless the USOC puts forth an American candidate city such as 2002 host Salt Lake City, Vancouver wins this category of consideration hands down.

To the silver medal on our podium of Vancouver 2030 merits: In terms of the previous positive experience, the IOC was clear in its evaluation of Vancouver 2010. It was among the best-run Games in IOC history. A big part of the credit for that goes to BC Sports Hall of Famer John Furlong, and before him, fellow Honoured Members Marion Lay, Arthur Griffiths and the late Jack Poole. Just one example is the grades that Vancouver 2010 received for its sport medicine services; arguably the best-ever at an Olympic Games (Thank you BC Sports Hall of Famer Dr. Jack Taunton and company). After a shaky start weather-wise and in terms of snow conditions, Vancouver 2010 gave us two of the finest weeks you could ever ask for. Visitors raved about the beauty of the city in particular and the province in general. That will be just as important on selection day in 2023 as it was back in July of 2003. Vancouver was crafty in its deployment of facilities, including cost-effective upgrades of what is now Rogers Arena and the Pacific Coliseum. The renovated BC Place stadium – home of the BC Sports Hall of Fame of course – will be an even better proposition in eight years than it was pre-renovation and retractable-roof installation (in 2010-2011).

Add it all up and Vancouver and Whistler go into the discovery process — and, ultimately, the bidding wars — with the advantage of geography and the memories of a very positive experience for the international sporting community this time back in 2010.

Yet the most compelling reason that Vancouver 2030 is a very strong candidate city and British Columbia a very worthy host province is the concept of how it will be run. They will be indigenous led, by the four first nations of the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh. As originally presented in a media conference December 10th at the BC Sports Hall of Fame and as confirmed earlier today in a media release by the Canadian Olympic Committee, the cities of Vancouver and Whistler and the four first nations, Vancouver 2030 would be the first Olympics ever hosted by an indigenous-led local organizing committee.

What that means to the Lil-wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh is clear. Yet the pride of hosting that they’ll feel in partnership with the Canadian Olympic Committee, Vancouver and Whistler will be shared by all first nations in B.C. and, for that matter, across Canada. In my view, it would be a beacon of hope and optimism for the entire world. It would be difficult for Sapporo or the presumptive competition in Salt Lake to present a more meaningful message than that behind Vancouver 2030.

The time is now for such a partnership. The opportunity is there for a very special, principled and meaningful Olympic Games. So is the heart and mind required to host for a second time in 20 years. And so is the BC sport system, including of course your BC Sports Hall of Fame. We recognize that our award-winning Indigenous Sport Gallery has become the new heartbeat of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. It stands just steps away from the Golden Moments gallery and the Vancouver 2010 gallery. Yet another hosting opportunity – on the strength of Vancouver 2030 – would only take our own story-telling to the next level…especially in the context of the generation-to-generation story-telling taught us by first nations such as the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh.

We’re ready to take that torch when it is lit. And in the interim, we’re prepared to do whatever we can to support the partners looking to the star-lit sky of Vancouver 2030.

Tom Mayenknecht, Chair
BC Sports Hall of Fame

Tom Mayenknecht is the Chair of the BC Sports Hall of Fame. A principal at Emblematica Brand Builders in Vancouver and a nationally-recognized sport business commentator and founder and host of The Sport Market sport business radio show, he is a strong advocate for KidSport, Right To Play and other children’s charities. He is also a member of the Ringette Canada Hall of Fame as a builder and Chair of the Paul Carson Sports Broadcast & Media Awards.