Posts Tagged ‘sports’
The Toronto Star‘s Betsy Powell writes about how the City of Toronto’s budget committee is unexcited by the idea of Toronto bidding for the 2024 Olympics.
Not a single member of the city’s powerful budget committee is endorsing Toronto entering the race to host the 2024 Summer Olympic Games.
Toronto has only a slim chance of submitting a winning bid, and even if the cash-strapped city is selected, the Olympics could prove to be financial boondoggle for years to come, councillors said after the committee met Monday to begin discussions on the city’s 2016 budget.
Several councillors said an outright no to a bid, while budget chief Gary Crawford and Councillor James Pasternak said they’d only consider Toronto advancing a bid if the cost — estimated at between $50 million and $60 million — is paid for by the private sector.
Toronto is under pressure if it wants to try to secure the 2024 Olympics, an idea that appeared to gain traction after the success of the recent Pan Am Games, the largest sporting event in Canadian history. Los Angeles is poised to enter the contest — its city council is expected to vote Tuesday — and is considered a frontrunner. LA2024 has already released a copy of its bid.
Anar Valiyev and Natalie Koch at Open Democracy describe how international sporting events like last year’s Sochi Olympics are used for multiple, self-propagandizing, purposes by authoritarian elites.
‘Urban boosterism’ is defined as the active promotion of a city, and it typically involves large-scale urban development schemes—constructing iconic new buildings, revamping local infrastructure, and creating a new image for the city.
For long a popular tactic of free market liberals, used to justify speculative building, the logic of urban boosterism hinges on freedom of movement of both capital and individuals. Curiously, though, it is increasingly at work in settings less committed to such freedoms. Urban planners in authoritarian countries are increasingly seeking to create new images for their cities and states through grandiose urban development and the hosting of major international spectacles, such as World Fairs, Olympic Games or the World Cup.
As citizens and their leaders in liberal democracies grow increasingly fatigued by—and intolerant of—the skyrocketing expense of hosting such spectacles, leaders in non-democracies have been quick to pick up the slack and are beginning to win first-tier event bids (like the 2008 Beijing Olympics; the 2014 Sochi Olympics and Russia’s 2018 World Cup; and Qatar’s 2022 World Cup). While urban boosterism in liberal democratic settings is also used to solidify the position of ‘growth machine’ elites, the unprecedented $51 billion price tag for Russia’s Olympic Games in Sochi shows that resource-rich, non-democratic states are positioned to develop such projects on a dramatically larger scale.
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The ‘Sochi syndrome’ is a sign of what we can expect as more and more non-democratic, illiberal states host these events, as illustrated by the cases of Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, and Turkmenistan.
According to Freedom House, in its classification system, these rank among the world’s least free countries. Boosterist agendas in Baku, Astana, and Ashgabat serve two related purposes—to distribute financial and political patronage, and to promote a positive image of the state for both international and domestic consumption.
Torontoist’s David Hains linked to the enigmatic final photo of Pachi, Pan Am/Parapan mascot, on his Instagram feed. He then posted an analysis of the Olympics, money-wise: At an estimated cost of $13 billion, what could Olympics funds pay for locally? Quite a lot, it turns out.
•Fund TCHC capital repair backlog over next 10 years to keep units in good standing ($2.6 billion).
•Build the Downtown Relief Line from Union to Don Mills (Over $4 billion).
•Build the full Waterfront LRT ($600—$900 million, depending on alignment).
•Fund Lower Don flood protection and area improvements, thus unlocking billions in real estate value (Over $900 million).
•Eliminate the TTC’s unfunded state of good repair backlog [PDF], including 372 subway cars, 201 Wheel Trans buses, 99 new buses, 66 new LRVs, subway and surface track maintenance, meeting the TTC accessibility requirement by the provincially mandated deadline in 2025, and more ($2.3 billion).
•A $400,000 condo for every homeless person in Toronto ($2 billion).
•20 new full-service community centres ($590 million).
•20 new libraries ($170 million).
(Why don’t we just pay for that? Indeed, why not.)
Who the hell is PACHI? This is the question that your humble correspondent asked when he first saw the smiling porcupine’s effigy atop a bus stop at Yonge and Dundas. “Meet PACHI!” said an accompanying sign, which explained that he was this year’s Pan Am mascot and encouraged us to tweet selfies at #HostCity. It’s also a question you may have asked if you’ve seen him at the many parades, community centres, and ribfests he’s visited in our fair province these past few months.
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PACHI was birthed by a group of Grade 8 students from a school in Markham, who entered their design into the TORONTO 2015 Mascot Creation Challenge as part of their phys-ed class. However, like Poochie, the ill-fated third wheel of The Itchy and Scratchy Show, he seems as if he were created out of pie charts and focus groups by a team of marketing gurus. Like a Canadian cinematic blockbuster of the Passchendaele or Men with Brooms variety, PACHI feels like an attempt to create a facsimile of an American product (in this case, a loveable anthropomorphized animal).
CBC’s take is more neutral.
I was exiting the northern exit of the St. Clair West subway station on Tichester Road/Heath Street when I saw a team playing on the field in late evening. A later googling brought up the below photo from 1974, revealing that even before this space became a high-end sports field for St. Michael’s College School–I think–it was still used. Continuity impresses me.