When Toronto lost the 2008 Olympics to Beijing, the bid team was given some harsh advice by the International Olympic Committee.
“Why would we come to Toronto, which has made no investment itself in sports? We’re not coming to a city that has not already made an exemplary commitment to the ideals that we believe in. Until you’ve done that, don’t come back.”
That’s the message Bruce Kidd, a committee member, recalls being told afterwards.
So a decision was made to make that desired foothold in sports investment through a Pan American Games bid. But since winning the Games two years ago, it’s been a slippery foothold at best. And with less than four years to go, Toronto’s organizing committee is already being accused of falling behind schedule.
TO2015 plans to have everything built with test events running the summer of 2014. But about a quarter of the more than 50 venues still aren’t nailed down. Major builds, such as the velodrome, don’t have a home now that Hamilton city council officially rejected the project earlier this week.
Key players involved with the Games warn that Toronto seems to be following in the footsteps of Guadalajara, which squandered years arguing over venue locations and funding and came dangerously close to not finishing in time for Friday night’s opening ceremonies.
The athletics stadium, which only received final approval a few days ago, is a drastically scaled down shadow of the original design. A key redevelopment in a poor neighbourhood downtown never materialized.