Volume 93, Issue 77

Wednesday, February 16, 2000


NEWS

McGuinty takes on Tories

Craving for alcohol linked with cigarettes

Weston aids the homeless

Three year degrees face extinction at U of T

Province backs Toronto's bid for 2008 Summer Olympics

The early bird gets the vacation

Bass Ackwards

Caught on campus

Province backs Toronto's bid for 2008 Summer Olympics



By Leena Kamat
Gazette Staff

With Toronto bidding to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the province has said they will financially support the mega-city if they get their wish. However, some Ontarians have been left wondering how they could reap the benefits of this event.

On Monday, the province sent a letter to TO-Bid, the Toronto Olympic bid group, stating it would be willing to cover a maximum of $2.5 billion if the project created a deficit, said Phyllis Berck, director of Bid Book project, a part of TO-Bid.

"It's terrific," Berck said, adding she was not surprised by the province's announcement, as it was something the two groups had been discussing for several months.

Of the $2.5 billion, Berck explained $1.9 billion would go towards operating costs and $687 million would go towards capital costs. Since the province would have to pay in the event of a deficit, it probably would want to be involved with the board to try to avoid a financial lost, she said.

Berck added the next step would be to present the idea to Toronto's city council who, at the end of the month, will vote as to whether or not the province's support should be accepted.

Kevin Wamsley, director of the International Centre for Olympic Studies at Western, said the province's support was necessary for the bid to go forward. He explained the International Olympic Committee requires someone, usually the government, to support the city in the case of a deficit.

Wamsley said he would be very surprised if the city council rejected the bid, but added there would likely be some lengthy debates involving the pros and cons of having the Olympics in Toronto.

"In general, people do support Toronto's bid to have the games," Wamsley said. He added those who are opposed, generally argue that the government should not be spending money on the games when education and the health care system have suffered so many cutbacks in recent years. If the money generated by the Olympics could go back to support Toronto's infrastructure, then more people would be happy, he said.

"I sort of wonder what benefits there are to people outside of Toronto," said John Palmer, a professor of economics at Western, explaining some people would object to the province's support.

"The Olympics will bring a lot of international tourists," he said. Most of the benefits, however, would go in the pockets of the hotel and restaurant owners, he added.

"[The Olympics] are a terrific thing and we hope that they come here," Berck said, adding Canada has a strong tradition of hosting international events.

"Our diverse population and the support of all three levels of government should help our bid," Berck said. Nine other cities, including Paris, Beijing and Bangkok, are also bidding to host the Olympics.

Wamsley said he did not believe Toronto had a strong chance of winning the bid, as Beijing was more likely to be the personal favourite. China has never hosted the games and a good political move would be to have them there, he added.


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