'Highly unusual for a democracy': Too much secrecy around Toronto Olympic bid, says expert
It’s highly unusual that Toronto would be considering an Olympic bid so close to the application deadline without making the most basic information public.
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The “extraordinarily secretive” people behind Toronto’s potential bid for the 2024 Olympic need to stand up and identify themselves, one expert says.
It’s highly unusual that Toronto would be considering an Olympic bid so close to the application deadline without making the most basic information public, said Janice Forsyth, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University.
That includes who’s responsible for it.
“Normally we’d know the players at this point in time, because it’s one of the biggest decisions, economically, Toronto and Ontario will have to make, whether or not they commit themselves to this bid,” she said. “They should be very concerned about their lack of transparency at this point in time, and if they want to gain back the public’s trust they should put out clear press saying exactly what is going to happen.
“This is highly unusual for a democracy.”
The deadline for Toronto to decide if it wants to play host is approaching fast.
By Sept. 15, each potential host country’s Olympic committee and the potential host city’s mayor must send a letter to the International Olympic Committee, along with a $150,000 application fee.
The Canadian Olympic Committee has offered to put up that money for Toronto and is waiting on Mayor John Tory to announce if he will sign the letter.
Typically at this stage the cities have bid teams in charge of their efforts and have already done significant planning and made it public, “Whether or not Toronto has done that kind of planning we can’t say, because that bid team has been extraordinarily private,” Forsyth said.
Forsyth said Marcel Aubut, head of the Canadian Olympic Committee, and Bob Richardson, an executive vice-president for Edelman Canada who co-chaired Tory's mayoralty campaign, are among those behind the push to have Toronto host the games.
Richardson told Metro that, at this point, “there is no bid team.”
Semantics aside, the transparency issues have cast Toronto’s bid in a negative light with the public, Forsyth argues.
Signing and sending a letter by the Sept. 15 deadline will not commit Toronto to submitting a bid. Council approval — which the mayor needs for a formal bid or spending money — could come after the letter, Tory has said.
However, if Tory does sign a letter and send it to the Olympic Committee, the city will be under a lot of pressure to stick with it, Forsyth said.
“The last thing you really want to do is piss off the IOC,” she said. “You’re going to get a ton of pressure coming from the Canadian Olympic Committee and a ton of pressure from the vested business interests.
“It’s really difficult to pull out.”