Greater Victoria’s bid to host the 2022 Invictus Games could face some tough competition.
Peter Lawless, vice-president of the Canadian Olympic Committee and part of the group bidding to bring the competition to the region, told Saanich council that local organizers must be honest about the fact Canada recently hosted the games in 2017 in Toronto.
“I can see credible bids coming from England, France, perhaps Germany, possibly the [United States],” he said. “But I think we have to be honest about that, yes, we have recently held it, so we may have an uphill battle. We don’t know who is going to bid.”
Greater Victoria, he said, should be prepared to bid for 2024, if the “writing on the wall” appears to be going against the Capital Region.
Lawless also told the public that organizers are looking for a total of $39 million to stage the games. “We have asked the [federal government] for $14 million, we have asked the province for 13.3 million, we have asked the municipalities effectively…for $700,000.”
Private fundraising consisting of donations worth $2 million and corporate sponsorship worth $9 million would account for the rest, he said.
Saanich’s share of the municipal portion would be $200,000, he said. That amount could consist of cash and in-kind contributions.
He told the public that the region already has all of the infrastructure needed to host the games, which would take place over the course of several days in late May. This said, the hotel industry has told organizers that early June might be better, he said.
The games — if they were to come to the region — would attract about 3,000 participants, as well as their family and friends, said Lawless, who cited an independent study that said Toronto — the last Canadian host of the Invictus Games — received a direct economic impact of $42.2 million.
Lawless made these comments before Saanich agreed to spend $20,000 towards the actual bid said to cost $70,000 and due March 29.
Mayor Fred Haynes said the games would be of the “right size” for the region. “We have had other games here that have had a massive additional infrastructure cost,” he said. “This seems to fit.” He also stressed the economic benefits. “The investment of $700,000 [from regional municipalities] gets us $39 million.”
Haynes also said council has been supportive of efforts to attract sporting events to the region.
“I do note that if we are successful — and I hope we are — it would fall in the last year of the term of this council, which would be a nice thing to look forward to.” he said. “It’s not only the legacy that you get from these events, but also the build-up to them.”
Coun. Judy Brownoff, whom Haynes credited for spearheading efforts, said the games would help disabled veterans.
“It’s an event that can play an important role in the rehabilitation of participants and inspire other ill and injured soldiers on the road to recovery,” she said, quoting a letter from a veteran who emailed her. “It’s truly heartening to see the support for these important events like this in Canada.”
In the Invictus Games – created by Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex – wounded, injured or sick armed services personnel and veterans associations compete across multiple sports. The name of the competition stems from a poem titled Invictus (Latin for unconquered) by English poet by William Ernest Henley in which the author (himself an amputee) celebrates physical and mental perseverance in the face of daunting odds.
The Netherlands will host the 2020 Games.