The buzz about which city will host the 2020 Summer Olympics is starting to grow louder. I thought this would be a good time to once again chime in about a city deserving of this honor.
It seems that my sentimental favorite, Lisbon will not be (actively) pursuing a bid. Following South Africa’s successful hosting of the FIFA World Cup, the South African city of Durban announced it will bid for the 2020 Games. Madrid, Rome, Hiroshima, Tokyo, Guadalajara, and Monterrey are also still in the race. Then there’s the other stalwart city in the mix: Toronto.
Toronto’s attempts to host the Games began in 1996 when it finished third behind Athens and Atlanta. The city made some changes and bid again for the 2008 Games, which it lost to Beijing, coming in second. As cities are preparing their initial bids for 2020, Toronto is there again, still determined and confident that it has what it takes to host the Games. And I couldn’t agree more.
Quite frankly, I’m baffled as to why Toronto has yet to host the Summer Olympics. The only answer I can offer is this: politics. (Certainly the mayor’s controversial comments didn’t help its chances in 2008.) The southern-most Canadian city has all the elements required of a host city. It’s technologically-savvy, a modern city. Like most of Canada, it strives to be eco-friendly, serving as a world leader in environmental consciousness. One of the largest cities in the world, it already possesses a sophisticated infrastructure, with an impressive mass transit system, well-designed highways, and an abundance of taxis. Its airport, Pearson International Airport, is one of the busiest in North America and recently underwent a major renovation, adding a new terminal.
I lived in Toronto, albeit briefly. The people there possess a proper, yet casual demeanor. I like to think of them as a mixture of American and British relaxed-like Americans, but more polite like the Brits. The city is a melting pot of cultures, offering a wide array of exposure to the arts and sciences. It has repeatedly been voted one of the most livable cities in the world.
Montreal hosted in 1976. Calgary did so in 1988, and this year’s Olympics were held in Vancouver. Yet Toronto, the largest city in Canada, has continually been snubbed. I see Toronto as the perfect host city. Its size and infrastructure make it capable of handling thousands of people converging on the city for a few weeks. And what better city to host a global sporting event than one with numerous athletic venues, such as Air Canada Centre, Rogers Centre, and the Canadian National Exhibition Centre, which boasts majestic buildings and two stadiums: BMO Field and Exhibition Stadium. These are just the major venues in Toronto and don’t include the other arenas in suburban Toronto, such as the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta for rowing.
Many speculate that the IOC is eager to continue awarding the Olympics to countries which have never had the opportunity, such as Rio, which was recently chosen to host the 2016 Games. If this is the case, then Durban is almost a shoe-in. A part of me supports Durban’s bid for the Games. I am eager to see the Olympics held in new, exotic places, but can cities like Durban afford such a monumental task? Some critics have predicted that hosting the Olympics would surely bankrupt Durban.
One glint of hope is that Toronto was awarded the 2015 Pan-American Games. Hosting the Pan-Am Games is a great beginning for a city which is bidding to host an Olympics. Does this mean that the IOC is giving Toronto the chance at an audition for 2020? Or are they simply offering Toronto leftovers from 2008?
The people of Toronto are ready and waiting, IOC. How much longer will you continue to make them wait? How much maple syrup will it take for you to come to your senses?
Swifter, Higher, Stronger.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons/Dave Minogue