U of T's Rosie Maclennan holds gold medals from the Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and from the 2012 Olympic Games (photo by Jason Ranson/COC)

Should Toronto's success at 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games translate into an Olympic bid?

Bruce Kidd: “It makes far more sense to go for 2028”

The Toronto 2015 Pan Am/Parapan Am Games worked “marvellously well” and now is the time to follow up with concrete action, says Professor Bruce Kidd – but that does not include bidding for the 2024 Olympic Games.

Kidd is the vice-president and principal of U of T Scarborough and a professor in the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.

He’s also a former Olympic athlete and a member of the provincial bid committee that brought the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games to Toronto.

In an interview with U of T News, Kidd said that “from my perspective and experience, the Pan Am bid was initiated largely to address the woeful shortage of good athletic facilities for high performance athletes and others in Toronto.

“Ontario had become the sick man of the Canadian sports system and study after study indicated an alarming deferred maintenance debt [on sports facilities]. The best athletes were leaving for other parts of the country or the U.S. and Europe to train.

“The Pan Ams and Parapan Ams worked marvellously well and out of them the Greater Golden Horseshoe got new or remarkably upgraded facilities, from Welland to Minden.”

Read more about the Pan Am and Parapan Am Games at U of T

Kidd, who was a middle distance runner in the 1964 Olympics in Tokyo, said “we need to make sure those facilities don’t become white elephants, and in fact are used to enhance participation, to allow athletes to train and compete here.”

The real proof will come in 2020, he said, when it is expected that an Ontario-based sports system will be in place. A member of the Canadian Olympic Committee since 1981, Kidd is waiting for the provincial government to release “an over-arching sport plan to co-ordinate this.”

Few cities in the world have followed up major amateur athletic sporting games with comprehensive plans to use the facilities built for them, Kidd said, pointing to both Barcelona and Montreal as examples of cities that have done it right.

“We are following the Barcelona model,” he said. “It’s still early days yet, but we are hearing that some athletes are saying they will stay here and train. It is starting to happen at our campus in Scarborough.”

Toronto Mayor and U of T alumnus John Tory has until Sept. 15 to make an application for the 2024 Olympic Games, along with a $150,000 cheque to the International Olympic Committee. A city study recently estimated it would cost $50 million just to make a formal bid. Kidd believes it will be $100 million.

David Peterson, chair of the board of the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games and former chancellor of U of T, said in an interview that the success of the games “proved that we can do it. We are the envy of the world. I think we have a good chance of winning [the bid for 2024]. I know a lot of IOC members who tell me if they had a vote today, they would vote for Toronto.”  Paris, Rome, Hamburg and Los Angeles are other cities bidding on the Games.

“I appreciate David’s tremendous energy and creativity,” Kidd said. “I just think the timing is not right. He thinks we need to strike when the iron is hot. I believe we need to consolidate what we have done now and develop a much more comprehensive plan for the Olympics because it is a much different project that will require a whole new effort. It if happens [a bid for 2024] it will be terrific, but it makes far more sense to go for 2028.”

Another problem in bidding for the Olympics is that “Toronto is not an exemplary Olympics city when it comes to sports,” Kidd said. “During the last bid (for 2008) the city was closing swimming pools, the best athletes were forced to train in other places and there was very little (media) coverage of Olympic sports.”

By using the facilities built for the Pan Ams, Toronto would show it can be an Olympic city in 2028, Kidd said, “but  you have to have the widest possible support.”


Bruce Kidd changing socks under the gaze of young onlooker during the #CNE Invitational and Sr. Class Meet, Toronto. 7 Sept 1964.

A photo posted by University of Toronto Archives (@utarchives) on

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