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Hamilton City Council has been advised by the province to hurry up and complete the preliminary design for the B-Line rapid transit line, LRT. They want the design complete in 6 months so that in the next budget in 2010 they can announce the rapid transit funding. The province wants the entire line completed by 2015. So it sounds like the province is very confident that it’ll succeed in it’s bid for the 2015 Pan Am Games.

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Ontario ramps up 2015 Pan Am bid

September 24, 2009



TORONTO -- Premier Dalton McGuinty is heading to Denmark in his effort to ensure southern Ontario will host the 2015 Pan American Games.

He will travel to Copenhagen next week to lobby delegates at a meeting of the International Olympic Committee.

Toronto, with Hamilton, is competing against Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru, for the two-week event.

McGuinty went to last year's Beijing Olympics to meet with IOC delegates and has made two lobbying trips to Mexico.

He will be in Copenhagen Oct. 2-4, then travel to Guadalajara, Mexico, in early November when the host city is announced.

In late August, the head of the Pan-Am Games evaluation team praised Ontario's bid during a tour of facilities in Toronto and Hamilton.

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Bid team takes on Obama for 2015 Pan Ams

October 02, 2009

John Kernaghan

The Hamilton Spectator


The big Olympic show today features U.S. President Barack Obama pitching Chicago 2016's merits, but Toronto 2015 has an important sideshow to execute during Olympic meetings in Copenhagen.

"It will be a high-octane event with Obama and other heads of state," said Jagoda Pike, president of the Toronto 2015 Pan Am Games bid.

The Canadian delegation, by contrast, will work away quietly to firm up votes to win the Americas sports showcase in five weeks.

"This might be the last chance to talk to some people and to also see the latest and greatest in bid presentations," she said.

Bid chair David Peterson has his sales pitch finely tuned.

"This is a fabulous opportunity for us to tell our story," he said.

He and Pike are at the International Olympic Committee with a party led by Premier Dalton McGuinty and Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best.

"Everyone will be there," Peterson said, and by everyone, he means representatives from the 42 Pan American Sports Organization (PASO) countries. They will vote Nov. 6 in Guadalajara, Mexico, to determine whether Canada's bid on behalf of southern Ontario trumps efforts by Lima, Peru, or Bogota, Colombia, to stage the 2015 showcase.

Rio and Chicago appear to be leading the race for the 2016 Olympics, and leads to two theories about the impact on the Pan Am result should the vote go to either city.

If Chicago wins, one line of thought suggests the rebuff to Rio means delegates in South and Latin America will strive harder to win the Pan Ams for Lima or Bogota.

But others, and that includes Canadian IOC member Dick Pound, suggest selecting Chicago would benefit Toronto 2015.

The Pan Ams in southern Ontario would serve as a good launching pad for athletes aimed at 2016 because the climate and communities are similar to Chicago and are only separated by one time zone.

But Peterson believes the vote defies "theorists and sophists," and will go to the city that presents the most compelling case and works hardest to win votes.

The former Ontario premier said Toronto's bid team has worked diligently on all levels -- sports, business and diplomatic -- for support.

And he has invited Prime Minister Stephen Harper to attend the PASO vote to help put the southern Ontario bid over the top.

Harper's office said it is being considered, but any announcement about his participation wouldn't be made public until two days before the vote, Nov. 4.

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Chicago's Olympic disappointment helps Ontario

Pan-Am group rooting for Rio

October 02, 2009

The Associated Press


COPENHAGEN, Denmark - The race for the 2016 Olympics has came down to just Rio de Janeiro and Madrid, with the International Olympic Committee eliminating Chicago in a stunning first round of voting.

Tokyo was knocked out in the second round.

That left just Rio and Madrid still in the mix. The IOC voted again to separate the two and elect a winner, which will be announced by IOC president Jacques Rogge later Friday.

With Chicago’s shocking ouster, supporters of southern Ontario’s 2015 Pan Am bid will hope Rio prevails.

An Olympics in South America in 2016 could swing Pan Am votes from the Lima and Bogota bids to Toronto 2015, which means $170 million in new sports and recreation facilities for Hamilton and Burlington.

But if Madrid wins, those same voters might want to grant one of the South American cities a consolation prize.

Madrid’s surprising success in reaching the final round came after former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made an unusual appeal for the Spanish capital, reminding the IOC members as he asked for their vote that, at age 89, “I am very near the end of my time.”

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Rio gets 2016 Olympic Games

Pan Am organizers backed Brazil

October 02, 2009

The Associated Press


COPENHAGEN, Denmark — Finally, South America gets an Olympics. The 2016 Games are going to Rio de Janeiro.

In a vote of high drama, the bustling Brazilian carnival city of beaches, mountains and samba beat surprise finalist Madrid, which got a big helping hand from a very influential friend.

Chicago was knocked out in the first round — in one of the most shocking defeats ever handed down by the International Olympic Committee. Even Tokyo, which had trailed throughout the race, did better — eliminated after Chicago in the second round.

Toronto Pan Am 2015 officials don’t believe Rio’s victory will have a substantial impact on the vote for the 2015 Pan Am Games in five weeks.

“We don’t think either Rio or Chicago would have made any difference in the Pan Am vote,” Toronto 2015 special consultant Bob Richardson said from a riotous Rio House in Copenhagen.

Joyous Brazilians partied loudly in the background as Richardson noted the choice of the last four Pan Am host cities shows no evidence of being influenced by the Olympic vote a month earlier.

Canadian IOC member Dick Pound has said the choice of Chicago would help the southern Ontario city because it made logistical sense to prepare athletes for the Olympics at a Pan Ams staged a year earlier in the same part of the world and similar climate.

But another train of thought held that if Rio won, it would take the pressure off Pan Am voters to select the Canadian bid’s rivals, Bogota, Colombia and Lima, Peru.

The occasion of the 2016 vote has given Toronto 2015 officials and politicians a chance to lobby for votes.

Richardson said Premier Dalton McGuinty has a full slate of meetings tomorrow and the bid group is hosting a social event in the evening.

Gary Lunn, the Minister of State for Sport, joined McGuinty, Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best, bid chair David Peterson and bid president Jagoda Pike in selling the merits of a bid that would bring $170 million in facilties to Hamilton and Burlington.

Rio spoke to IOC members’ consciences: the city argued that it was simply unfair that South America has never hosted the Games, while Europe, Asia and North America have done so repeatedly.

“It is a time to address this imbalance,” Brazil’s charismatic president, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, told the IOC’s members before they voted. “It is time to light the Olympic cauldron in a tropical country.”

The bearded former union leader disappeared into a huge group hug with the joyous Rio team after IOC president Jacques Rogge announced that the city won. Soccer great Pele had tears in his eyes.

Madrid’s surprising success in reaching the final round came after former IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch made an unusual appeal for the Spanish capital, reminding the IOC’s members as he asked for their vote that, at age 89, “I am very near the end of my time.”

Samaranch ran the IOC for 21 years before Rogge took over in 2001.

Chicago had long been seen as a front-runner and got the highest possible level of support — from U.S. President Barack Obama himself. But he only spent a few hours in the Danish capital where the vote was held and left before the result was announced. Former IOC member Kai Holm said that the brevity of his appearance may have counted against him.

The short stopover was “too business-like,” Holm said. “It can be that some IOC members see it as a lack of respect.”

Senior Australian IOC member Kevan Gosper surmised that Asian voters may have banded together for Tokyo in the first round, at Chicago’s expense.

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Rio gets 2016 Olympics — could it help our Pan Am bid?

October 02, 2009

John Kernaghan

The Hamilton Spectator


The Olympic vote for Rio de Janeiro in 2016 will have Pan Am Games voters looking north to Canada, businessman David Braley believes.

“It can’t hurt and probably helps in combination with the pattern of recent Pan Am Games going to countries in the south,” the Pan Am bid board member said.

While some observers can’t see any impact from the Olympic decision, he noted that recent Pan Am Games have gone to the Dominican Republic (2003), Rio (2007) and Guadalajara, Mexico (2011), pointing to a need to go north.

Braley, an early and vigorous proponent of the Games on behalf of Hamilton, feels the momentum has swung to the Toronto 2015 bid.

“It’s time for North America again and this is a solid opportunity for southern Ontario and particularly Hamilton to become a major sports centre.”

Rio won the first Olympics for South America in a final showdown today with Madrid.

Chicago was bounced in a shocking first-round knockout despite the presence of President Barack Obama and an all-star lobbying team, then Tokyo was eliminated.

The southern Ontario bid is up against Bogota, Colombia and Lima, Peru for the 42-nation Pan Am showcase a year earlier.

While Braley looked at the long-term trend south, Toronto 2015 officials don’t believe Rio’s victory will have a substantial impact on the vote for the 2015 Games in five weeks.

“We don’t think either Rio or Chicago would have made any difference in the Pan Am vote,” Toronto 2015 special consultant Bob Richardson said from a riotous Rio House in Copenhagen today.

Joyous Brazilians partied loudly in the background as Richardson noted the choice of the last four Pan Am host cities shows no evidence of being influenced by the Olympic vote a month earlier.

Mayor Fred Eisenberger wasn’t sure a case could be made for the Rio vote boosting Canada’s bid.

He said Rio should be congratulated but had sympathy for losers Chicago, Tokyo and Madrid.

“We know their pain from our Commonwealth Games disappointments.”

Meantime, Canadian IOC member Dick Pound has said the choice of Chicago would have helped the southern Ontario city because it made logistical sense to prepare athletes for the Olympics at a Pan Ams staged a year earlier in the same part of the world and in a similar climate.

The occasion of the 2016 vote yesterday gave Toronto 2015 officials and politicians a chance to lobby for votes.

Richardson said Premier Dalton McGuinty has a full slate of meetings on Sunday and the bid group is hosting a social event in the evening.

Gary Lunn, the Minister of State for Sport, joined McGuinty, Health Promotion Minister Margarett Best, bid chair David Peterson and bid president Jagoda Pike in selling the merits of a bid that would bring $175 million in facilities to Hamilton and Burlington.

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Toronto 2015 is hosting a reception in Copenhagen tonight.

PASO members in town for the Olympic Congress are meeting with the bid team, including Premier Dalton McGuinty. The room is decorated in a Canada theme and guests are being treated to a beer bottle blowing band (I couldn't really figure it out either).

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From The Globe & Mail

What it means for Toronto's Pan Am Games bid


From Saturday's Globe and Mail Last updated on Saturday, Oct. 03, 2009 03:33AM EDT

Backers of Toronto's bid to host the 2015 Pan American Games are eyeing Rio de Janeiro's euphoric victory yesterday and wondering whether that can help Hogtown's own aspirations.

Toronto's boosters are in Copenhagen this weekend promoting the city's bid, and some observers have suggested that the South American city's nod to host the 2016 Olympics could work in Toronto's favour.

David Peterson, the former Ontario premier and chairman of Southern Ontario's Toronto-branded bid for the Pan Am Games of 2015, was cautious in evaluating Rio's win. In a phone interview from Copenhagen, Mr. Peterson said the selection of Rio as the 2016 Olympic host "doesn't really matter" for Toronto's Pan Am Games hopes, "because there's a different voting base for the Pan American Games."

However insiders said a South American city's win is the biggest boost Toronto could receive at Copenhagen. Chicago had fallen as a Great Lakes city candidate and the South American location of Rio wouldn't help Bogota and Lima, who are Toronto's opponents for the 2015 Games. Rio was also awarded the 2014 World Cup of soccer.

Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty is in Copenhagen until tomorrow to underscore Toronto's Pan Am interests as the vote for the Olympics was being taken.

"I need to go," Mr. McGuinty told reporters before he left. "I think we've made it clear and I think they have been really honest about us having the strongest bid. ... We've got to go and meet with as many of the voters as we possibly can and encourage them to support Toronto's bid. There's no substitute for being physically present, engaging in those conversations."

Bob Richardson, senior adviser to Toronto's bid for the 2015 Pan American Games, who was reached at the headquarters for the Rio victory party in Copenhagen, said it's still unclear exactly how Rio's victory will play out for Toronto.

"Dick Pound [the IOC member in Canada] had said it would be positive for Toronto if Chicago won, others said it would be positive if Rio won," Mr. Richardson said.

"All we know is that we have to work hard for the next four weeks to get the votes to win the Pan Am Games. ... Now, it gets very busy. The Premier has a full day of visits [saturday] with heads of national Olympic committees, and presidents and fellow premiers and we are hosting a reception."

Rio's selection marks its third shot at hosting the Olympics after failed bids in 2004 and 2012. That in itself could also provide hope for those still hoping to see Toronto host an Olympics, said Myer Siemiatycki, a Ryerson University politics professor who has followed the city's bids.

As well, the Brazilian city hosted the Pan Am Games in 2007, Prof. Siemiatycki pointed out - a chip Toronto could use to push for a spot as Olympics host.


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Toronto 2015 team beefs up pitch for Pan Ams

October 08, 2009

Stories by John Kernaghan

The Hamilton Spectator


Toronto 2015 has submitted a buffed-up Pan Am Games bid document that stresses the athlete experience and fleshes out transportation plans.

That comes a month before the vote to determine the Games host on Nov. 6 in Guadalajara, Mexico.

The enhanced bid book was handed into the Pan American Sports Organization, the Games' organizing body, as a Canadian delegation concluded four days of lobbying at the International Olympic Committee congress in Copenhagen.

"It was intense, lots of meetings and people to see," said Toronto 2015 bid president Jagoda Pike.

Pike said the upgraded bid was partly a response to a review by an evaluation panel that visited Hamilton and Toronto in late August.

Rival bids from Lima, Peru, and Bogota, Colombia, have referred to southern Ontario's transportation plan when comparing the bids.

But the evaluation panel didn't find fault with the plan, which stretches from the athletes' village in Toronto's West Don Lands to Steeltown's stadium, velodrome and pool sites.

The panel members approved of the GO train trip they took, and said the train and the widened Queen Elizabeth Way would be good ways to move athletes within a 40- to 45-minute time frame.

The 205-nation International Olympic Committee convention last week selected Rio de Janeiro as the 2016 Olympic host.

Some observers feel the choice of Rio will help Toronto 2015 win the $1.4-billion Pan Am Games, especially with previous Pan Ams going to southern destinations.

"We don't think it helps us or hurts us," Pike said. "We believe the vote will centre on the ability to deliver the best experience to the athletes."

She said an important part of Toronto's pitch for votes is a pre-Games training program that would help Pan Am athletes and coaches from other countries perform better in 2015.

Pike noted the trend of bloc voting, which knocked co-favourite Chicago out of the 2016 Olympic race on the first ballot, shouldn't have Toronto worried for the Pan Am vote.

Senior IOC officials claimed an Asian bloc of 44 national Olympic committees apparently voted overwhelmingly for Tokyo, even though Chicago was a widespread sentimental favourite.

With many of the 49 European nations leaning toward Madrid and the 42 nations of the Pan American Sports Organization sympathetic to Rio, Chicago was bounced.

For the Pan Am vote, it would take members of the Caribbean National Olympic Committees -- with 23 nations and 26 votes, half of the total 52 -- to dump a bid in the first-round.

Pike believes the southern Ontario bid has strong support in the Caribbean.

The Caribbean Olympic committee president, Steve Stoute, has called on member nations to vote for Toronto 2015.

After that group's 26 votes, 11 South American countries have 15 votes, five Latin American nations have five votes, and three North American countries have five votes.

Pike said despite receiving good signals -- some from South America and Latin America -- the Canadian bid push is taking nothing for granted.

"Bogota and Lima are working very hard, just as we are, right to the finish."

It will be pedal to the metal as the three bids meet at the intersection of dreams and reality in Guadalajara, Pike said.

"We're going full tilt and want to be the one which emerges from that," she said.

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Bogota Lima Toronto

Three cities prepare for the last dance


Last Updated: 11th October 2009, 2:57am



It is four weeks to V-Day.

Nov. 6 is voting day. When Toronto finds out if it will play host to the 2015 Pan Am Games. As the brinksmanship leading up to that vote percolates, Toronto's bid committee is taking the high road.

The question is, will that road bog down like a trip up the Don Valley at rush hour?

While Toronto remains favoured over Bogota, Colombia, and Lima, Peru when the Pan American Sports Organization's (PASO) 42-member countries meet in Guadalajara, there are indications this bid could go from shoo-in to shut out.

"You can't take anything for granted," admits senior advisor to the Toronto bid, Bob Richardson. "It's still a very much open, fluid competition. It's hard to say (if the Toronto bid has the 27 votes needed to win). We're working quietly."

Quietly is not how either Bogota or Lima are going to go. Potshots have come from both. At Toronto. At each other.

There has not been, and will not be any return fire. Instead, Toronto's bid committee met recently with Mike Fennell, first vice president of PASO in Jamaica, which has pledged its support to Toronto. Last week the Toronto delegation, along with Premier Dalton McGuinty, cajoled delegates from Pan American countries at an IOC Congress that named Rio De Janiero as host for the 2016 Olympics.

"What I once thought was a slam dunk, I now think they're fighting for their lives. Can they still win? Yep. But they better put their nose to the grindstone," said an international IOC member, who is not associated with any of the three bids but is familiar with the voting process and many of the voting delegates.

There are several reasons to believe the Golden Horseshoe bid is no longer a lock:

In the final push for votes both Bogota, which appears to be gaining favour with delegates, and Lima have been lobbying extensively among Caribbean countries which were believed to be leaning towards North America after a 16-year absence. This week Lima has invited delegates from the Caribbean to discuss tourism, environment and sports.

But Arturo Woodman, head of the Peruvian Sports Institute (IPD), has admitted to local reporters that the real intention is to curry favour -- and by extension votes -- for the 2015 Games. IOC rules forbid actual voting delegates from attending such freebies but a word in the right ear can do funny things at the ballot box. One man's idea of a favour is another's idea of corruption.

"You have a rough feel on some votes," said Richardson. "We think we have an excellent bid and we have gotten positive feedback but we're going to have to work very hard to win this thing over the next four weeks."

It wouldn't be the first time the Golden Horseshoe got burned. Hamilton's 2010 bid for the Commonwealth Games ended in controversy when New Delhi came up with a last-minute offer of $7.2 million in what they called "training funds" for all 72 countries who had a vote. New Delhi won 46 of 68 votes.

The mayor of Bogota has been dissing Golden Horseshoe facilities.

Lima officials have questioned Canada's ethics in making a bid in the first place and have been successfully playing the underdog.

Finally, what once seemed like an iron-clad proposal now may be popping rivets. What once was perceived as an asset -- spreading the Games to various communities throughout the Golden Horseshoe -- is now being portrayed as a deficiency. Then there is the matter of public support. While local opposition has been muted, so has public support. Toronto Mayor David Miller's endorsement has been lukewarm and the general population seems ambivalent.

Meantime, in Bogota, mayor Samuel Moreno proudly points to a survey showing 90% public support. And, figuring out what the PASO hierarchy truly believes is like trying to hit a moving target while playing Pin The Tail On The Donkey. When a PASO evaluation committee came to Toronto last month, chairman Julio Maglione made headlines when he uttered that Toronto's facilities were so good it should make an Olympic bid. Turns out he says that everywhere.

"With some modifications the Colombian capital could aspire to be the host of Olympic Games," he told a writer with the Colombian Reporter after visiting Bogota.

In Toronto, he told reporters that having facilities 45 minutes apart in Hamilton and Toronto was not "an issue." In Bogota he remarks upon the "outstanding infrastruture" all being within six kilometres of each other.

Then he tells local reporters that he hopes "all 42 Olympic (Pan Am) committees choose it as host city." In Lima.

"I wouldn't have known either what to think until I'd been through this circus," said Richardson, who was chief operating officer of Toronto's failed bid for the 2008 Olympics.


* Lima mayor Luis Castaneda told a Peruvian news agency his city, which is at sea level, would serve athletes better than the thin air of Bogota, located 2,600 metres above sea level. He's also big on esthetics: Says Toronto doesn't have the services and isn't nearly as pretty, either.

* Bogota mayor Samuel Moreno told Agence France Presse a winning bid by Toronto would mean an inconvenient 45-minute trip from the athletes' village to the track and field stadium in Hamilton.

* Peruvian officials lobbied the Canadian government to withdraw from the bidding, suggesting the country should bid for the Olympics and that it is being greedy by bidding on events that should go to smaller nations.

* Woodman, head of the Peruvian Institute of Sport, says southern Ontario and Bogota cannot compare with the infrastructure, safety, "serviceability" and beauty of the Peruvian capital.

* In a rare public endorsement, Barbados Olympic Association president Steve Stoute says it will vote for Toronto and encourage all 26 Caribbean members to support Toronto's bid. Jamaica is the only other country to publicly back Canada's bid. Last week Cuba announced it would vote for Lima, as will Aruba, Bahamas and The Netherlands Antilles.

* Politics and sport do mix. Big time. Cuba's support of Lima is as much political as it is sports related. Cuba and Colombia have been at odds since Fidel Castro came to power. Meantime, McGuinty is trying to do what Barrack Obama couldn't -- sway voters. He hosted a reception in Copenhagen, went to last year's Beijing Olympics to meet with IOC delegates and has made two lobbying trips to Mexico.

The win by Rio over Chicago, said Richardson, won't affect the Toronto bid. "You look at the awarding of the last four Pan Am Games, the choice of the Olympic host city really played no role in who won the Pan Am bid."

But he cautions that while Toronto may be more familiar to Canadians, the voting members of PASO probably are more familiar with the competition. "Let's remember who the voters are; half are from South America and they know Bogota and they know Lima."


Killer issue: Proximity of venues. Toronto's bid book may not be as infallible as first believed. Spreading the facilities throughout the Golden Horseshoe provides a legacy. Canadian sports organizations love the infrastructure it can bring and it sells well politically. But it doesn't sell with PASO. PASO members care about what happens to them and their athletes for the 17 days the Games are in town. Committee members from a Caribbean country that an official with the Toronto bid group said would support them has told confidantes that voters are concerned about traffic congestion between the athletes' village and the proposed pool near the 401 and Morningside. Anyone who has tried to get up the Don Valley anytime after 4 o'clock knows you can't get there from here.

Fortunately, as IOC veteran Dick Pound once noted, "bid books are the greatest piece of fiction ever written." Calgary, one of the best Olympics ever, changed everything except the Saddledome. Vancouver has changed almost 30% of its venues and Atlanta revised about 35% of its proposals.

A little whisper in some ears about moving the pool downtown, or even building an outdoor facility at the portlands, might kick a few voters off the fence in the Golden Horseshoe's direction.

Richardson admits there could be changes. Just not now.

What's to love: Solid government financial backing. Infrastructure. Large market to expose the Games' brand beyond Latin America. With the Games in the Dominican in 2003, Rio de Janeiro in 2007 and Guadalajara in 2011, there's a risk of becoming geographically marginalized. Safe, secure environment.


Killer issues: Security. Colombia has a history of para-military uprisings. The country is only now restoring relations with Ecuador after an armed incursion but there is saber-rattling with Venezuela.

It's high. And, not just the drug underworld. At an altitude of 790 metres, it was deemed so inhospitable that FIFA attempted to ban international soccer matches from being played here.

Speaking of stumbling blocks, it was revealed this week that 48,000 Colombian government officials, including 800 mayors and 30 governors, are under investigation for corruption.

Like Toronto, it has its own traffic problem areas.

What's to love?: 80% of the required sporting facilities are already in place and as sub-host of the 2010 Central American/Caribbean Games they're not new at this game. Compact facilities. Opening, closing ceremonies at PanAmerican Stadium with track and field at adjacent El Campin Coliseum. Walking distance from Simon Bolivar aquatic complex and high performance centre to athletes village. Picturesque setting with mountain backdrop and year-round spring-like weather.


Killer issues: Until Toronto's entry Lima was emerging as a surprise favourite in the bidding. The country has never hosted a multi-sport international games. Now it and Bogota are in danger of splitting the South American vote, leaving both as losers.

To many in Canada, Lima conjures images of poverty, mountain farmers and old Inca ruins. It has that. And, some within the IOC believe putting a Games in Lima is financial suicide. There are concerns that despite government backing the Lima bid simply doesn't have the budget.

What's to like?: Cradled by mountains on the Pacific coast, it is one of the 10 largest metropolitan areas in the world. It already has three stadiums including Estadio Nacional, a 60,000 seat multi-use stadium with a running track and artificial turf. And, that's the smallest one. There is already an Olympic pool and a coliseum for basketball and volleyball.

* * *

And, so this tale of three cities comes to its denouement. As Bogota, Lima and Toronto prepare for the last dance, PASO and its bid process continue to invite public speculation and conjecture. This vote will reveal itself from behind a dark curtain of politics, grudges, favours given and returned. As International Olympic Committee power broker Horst Dassler once noted of the bid process: "The game doesn't start until the last six months. Those six months are important. The last six weeks are crucial, the last six days are life or death, and who knows what will happen in the last six hours."

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It's rah-rah time for 2015 Pan Am Games bid team

October 17, 2009

John Kernaghan

The Hamilton Spectator



After months of energetic international lobbying, the 2015 Pan Am bid team worked yesterday to put some local sizzle into the $1.4-billion initiative.

"We've been kind of low profile, now it's time to build passion for the Games," said bid group member Alexandra Orlando, a Pan Am and Olympic gymnast. "It's been kind of dark times due to the economy, now we need to shake things up and start looking forward."

Orlando spoke after a panel discussion at the Canadian Club of Toronto where she, bid chair David Peterson and Canadian Olympic Committee CEO Chris Rudge fleshed out all the benefits the 42-nation showcase would bring to the Toronto-Hamilton bid.

More than 30 current and former athletes, including Olympic rower Marnie McBean, gymnast Karen Cockburn and track cyclist Curt Harnett, sat at tables for a noon business lunch to drum home what the Games mean to Toronto.

Rudge struck a responsive chord, saying it's time for a win after five international losses -- two Toronto Olympic bids and a World's Fair try plus Steeltown's two Commonwealth Games misses.

He stressed southern Ontario had fallen behind most of Canada in providing sports and recreation opportunities and focused on the velodrome slated for Hamilton as one which could be dynamic in serving elite and everyday athletes.

A leader of a grassroots coalition calling itself No Games Toronto asked how $1.4 billion for fun and games could be justified when homeless people were dying in the streets. Peterson stressed those ills can be addressed more permanently when you have the kind of prosperity the Games will create.

Tourism Hamilton executive director David Adames, who attended the lunch, said the panel discussion underscored Hamilton's role with references to the legacy of the velodrome and a $100-million to $150-million Pan Am stadium slated for the Bay and Barton area.

Yesterday's session came on the heels of Peterson's latest globe-trotting to leverage every opportunity to lock up votes, a marathon 30-hour visit to New Delhi.

He visited the recent Commonwealth Games Federation annual congress in the Indian city to get face time with the CGF members who are also delegates of the Pan American Sports Organization.

"There are 15 countries common to both organizations and we got in two presentations and a reception," said Peterson.

"They know we're deadly serious about this because we show up everywhere." Neither of Toronto 2015's rivals, Lima, Peru, or Bogota, Colombia, lobbied in India.

The Pan Am vote is Nov. 6.

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