The 2030 Olympics and Paralympics are still eight years away, but Canada’s vision for the Winter Games is already coming into place.
The group leading a potential bid to host the events include four host First Nations in the region along with the Canadian Olympic and Paralympic committees and the municipalities of Vancouver and Whistler. On Tuesday at the Squamish Lil’wat Cultural Center in Whistler, it announced new details, including what the Indigenous-led Games in BC could look like as well as dates and venues.
The quartet of host First Nations are the Lil̓wat7úl (Líl̓wat), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish) and səlilwətaɬ (Tsleil-Waututh) nations.
Unlike in 2010, when Musqueam Chief Wayne Sparrow said the nations were invited into the Games “as an afterthought,” they now have a seat at the table right from the start.
The bid group now enters what it calls the “engagement phase,” in which they seek support both from the public and from all levels of government for the plan.
The official bid process with the International Olympic Committee is not expected to begin until December. The International Olympic Committee said last month that it may be “in a position to elect a host for the 2030 Games” at an IOC session next May in Mumbai.
Sparrow credited the IOC for leading reconciliation in 2010 by making sure the nations were involved before moving forward with Vancouver. Now, he’s part of the inner circle guiding the first-ever Indigenous-led bid.
“With the release of the Games concept, we can finally begin to share that we are ready to welcome the world back to our territory and create new paths towards reconciliation through sport,” he said in a press release.
The 2030 Olympics would be held from Feb. 8-24 and include 109 medal events across 15 disciplines. The Paralympics would run from March 8-17.
One strength of the BC bid is the ability to reuse nearly all of the facilities from Vancouver 2010, which bid officials say remain in good condition. Hockey, for example, will remain at Rogers Arena — the site of Sidney Crosby’s golden goal and the home of the Vancouver Canucks.
One key change would see freestyle skiing and snowboarding move from Cypress, which turned to slush amid mild conditions in 2010, to Sun Peaks resort near Kamloops, about five hours northeast of Vancouver.
The Kamloops venue is on the traditional unceded territories of the Adams Lake, Little Shuswap Lake and Neskonlith Indian Bands. Tewanee Joseph, the COC’s head of Indigenous inclusion and partnerships and a member of the Squamish Nation, said dialogue has already begun with those groups about staging the events on their land, and that “respecting protocols is paramount.”
“Those nations will be respected by the four First Nations and asked if they would like to participate,” Joseph said.
A pair of events introduced to the Olympic program since 2010 — big air snowboard and ski — would take place at Hastings Park Racecourse, complete with a backdrop of downtown Vancouver. Curling would be held at the nearby Agrodome, instead of the Hillcrest Center used in 2010.
While the bidding process is fully funded by the COC, representatives from the bid group said specific cost allocations won’t be made public until mid-July.
The aim is for 2030 to also be the first climate-positive games. Where 2010 achieved sustainability, 2030 would hope to leave the environment behind in better shape than before.
Meanwhile, Indigenous inclusion from the start should mean a greater effect on a daily basis during the Games themselves. Dennis Thomas, an elected councilor of the Tsleil-Waututh Nation, pointed to education as a main goal.
“What if the four host nations and our collective group create this unique video that we send around the world for all the countries that are coming to our territory? That is onboarding. That is Indigenizing these Games.”
“This is a model already — a model that people can look to in terms of reconciliation and how we can engage and work together. This is already a model. By 2030, it will be the model that people can look to whether it’s in business, sport, education or others and say, ‘If they can do it there, we can do it in our areas as well.'”
Also Tuesday, the bid group launched an official website, gamesengagement.ca, along with a public survey. Its first community engagement session is planned for Wednesday at the Vancouver Board of Trade.
Three other bids — Salt Lake City, US; Sapporo, Japan; and a joint effort from Spain, France and Andorra — have also expressed interest in playing host.
In addition to BC, technical officers from the IOC have completed site visits at the first two locations.
If the Canadian bid is successful, it would mark the first Games in the country since Vancouver 2010. Montreal hosted the 1976 Summer Games, while Calgary hosted the Winter Games in 1988.
CBC/Radio-Canada recently announced a renewed Olympic partnership with the IOC that features exclusive broadcast rights for the network through the 2032 Brisbane Games.