Critics sound alarm of secrecy surrounding possible Toronto bid for Olympics

Days before Toronto must decide whether to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, critics are sounding the alarm over what they call unprecedented secrecy surrounding the process.

TORONTO — Days before Toronto must decide whether to bid for the 2024 Summer Olympics, critics are sounding the alarm over what they call unprecedented secrecy surrounding the process.

Opponents of a possible bid say Mayor John Tory is keeping the details and costs of a potential Toronto proposal under wraps, while at least one member of the mayor’s own council has accused him of conducting backroom deals.

That so little is known about the mayor’s dealings so late in the process is troubling and “extraordinary,” said Janice Forsyth, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western University.

“This is where all of these promises are made, this is where all of these deals are made, and they’re usually made using public dollars and when these things and these deals are done in private, it is a serious problem concerning transparency and accountability,” she said.

“If there were public debates about it, if the public was actually being invited to talk about it and then they still chose to host the Games, then that would be a different matter,” she said. “But they aren’t actually being given an opportunity to be a self-determining part of this process — or at least not yet and (the deadline) is next week.”

A city councillor urged the mayor this week to call a special council meeting before Tuesday’s deadline to register interest with the International Olympic Committee. Other councillors have voiced similar requests in recent weeks.

“It is a mistake on your part to continue to have ’behind-the-scene conversations’ with folks without council direction, while the deadline for sending a letter expressing interest in an Olympic bid slowly and surely slips away,” Coun. Anthony Perruzza wrote in a letter to the mayor.

While the letter to the IOC doesn’t commit Toronto to making a pitch for the 2024 Games, Tory has said it represents a serious step toward a bid and should not be seen as a “place-holder.”

The mayor has repeatedly said he will not convene council ahead of the deadline but will hold a vote on whether to proceed with a bid should he file a letter of interest.

“I just felt in the circumstances that the decision as to whether to even send a letter or not expressing interest was one that I could make, in consultation with my colleagues and a lot of other people,” Tory said Thursday. “So I’ll be held accountable for that decision.”

The result of those consultations has not been made public and several members of the city’s budget committee have expressed concerns about the cost of competing for and hosting the Olympics, and who would foot the bill.

Postponing debate until after a letter is filed is “back to front,” said Ann Harwood of NoTO2024, a grassroots organization opposing a bid for the Games.

“We have one person, the mayor of Toronto, talking for the taxpayers of the city without consultation,” she said. “It’s been like a circus — anybody you talk to is like, ’What is going on?”’

Emails obtained by the organization through a freedom of information request showed the existence of a so-called Olympic working group connected to the mayor’s office.

Tory said the working group is simply assisting him in planning his consultations.

What happens after Sept. 15 remains murky under new rules brought in by the IOC, Forsyth said, noting details of the new bidding process won’t be released until after the deadline.

“So first we have to sign on to the commitment to bid and then they give you information and I don’t even know what that date will be or what that information will consist of,” she said. “It’s a complete grey zone, as far as the public is concerned.”

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Traffic will be delayed on 40th Avenue and 19th Street until the end of February. (Advocate file photo).
Traffic delays expected downtown this weekend

Red Deer drivers will be delayed in the downtown area of the… Continue reading

COVID
Red Deer down to 313 active cases of COVID-19

Alberta reports an additional 411 COVID-19 cases

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Los Angeles Kings head coach Darryl Sutter, top, is shown on the bench after NHL action against the Clagary Flames  in Calgary, Alta., Thursday April 9, 2015. Sutter says he has "unfinished business" as he returns to coach the Calgary Flames. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Larry MacDougal
Darryl Sutter has ‘unfinished business’ in return to Calgary Flames

Darryl Sutter has ‘unfinished business’ in return to Calgary Flames

Walter Gretzky talks to people while at the funeral of Celtic music legend John Allan Cameron at St. Isaac Jogues Church in Pickering, Ont., Monday, Nov. 27, 2006. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
‘A legend in his own right’: Hockey world pays tribute to the late Walter Gretzky

‘A legend in his own right’: Hockey world pays tribute to the late Walter Gretzky

Jordan Spieth follows his approach shot to the ninth green during the second round of the Arnold Palmer Invitational golf tournament Friday, March 5, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Conners builds 1-shot lead at Bay Hill as McIlroy lurks

Conners builds 1-shot lead at Bay Hill as McIlroy lurks

Team Canada skip Brad Gushue makes a shot as he plays Team Ontario at the Brier in Calgary, Alta., Friday, March 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Brier in the Bubble: Defending champion Gushue beats Epping in opening draw

Brier in the Bubble: Defending champion Gushue beats Epping in opening draw

Switzerland's celebrates after the final match at the Women's Curling World Championship in Silkeborg Denmark Sunday March 24. 2019. The 2021 world women's curling championship is back on the curling calendar. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Ritzau Scanpix - Henning Bagger
Women’s world curling championship back on calendar, added to Calgary bubble

Women’s world curling championship back on calendar, added to Calgary bubble

A guard stands outside the gates of an immigrant holding centre in Laval, Que., Monday, Aug. 15, 2016. Several men at a Montreal-area immigration detention refused food this week as part of a protest aimed at drawing attention to what they say are inhumane conditions and to secure their release.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes
Montreal-area immigration detainees on hunger strike over COVID-19 fears

Montreal-area immigration detainees on hunger strike over COVID-19 fears

Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan takes part in a year-end interview with The Canadian Press at National Defence Headquarters in Ottawa on Thursday, Dec. 17, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Sajjan aide emailed military ombudsman about allegations days after meeting in 2018

Sajjan aide emailed military ombudsman about allegations days after meeting in 2018

Most Read