Winning the bid to host the 2015 Pan/Parapan American Games could boost Toronto’s diverse communities financially, says the Games’ chief executive officer, Ian Troop.
“We know we are going to be spending $1.4 billion which is a lot of money and it’s really important that the money gets into those communities in a variety of ways,” he told a diversity business conference in Toronto last week. “We have to take advantage of our diversity.”
The conference was organized to inform the business community in the Greater Toronto Area and other regions of the opportunities leading up to and during the first multi-sport event to be held in Ontario since the first official Commonwealth Games in Hamilton in 1930.
“These events bring tremendous economic benefits through tourism and they create opportunities for Ontario’s businesses and organizations like yourselves who are instrumental in the successful delivery of high-performance competition and the relevant services,” said Ontario’s Minister of Health Promotion & Sport, Margarett Best.
“Thousands of new jobs will be created to deliver on the commitments and significant investments the province is making in infrastructure, sports facilities and housing. These commitments will also provide many opportunities for a diverse range of businesses.”
Best, who helped bring the Games to Toronto and the Golden Horseshoe region, said this is an exciting time for sport in the province with the Pan Am Games just four years away.
“Hosting diverse world-class events create cultural unity and pride in our various diverse communities, showcase Ontario to the rest of the world, help develop amateur sport in the province and encourage our residents to participate in sports and lead healthy and active lives,” she said.
Troop promised that the Games venues, including York University which will host track and field and tennis, will be ready by 2014 for test events.
Last month, York University – the alma mater of Best who graduated from Osgoode Law School and was called to the Ontario Bar in 1997 – signed a letter of intent with the Pan/Parapan American Games organizing committee to negotiate an agreement for the construction of a facility that would meet International Amateur Athletics Federation (IAFF) standards.
“We have made a number of changes in the last six months,” said Troop. “The work has been done by many people across 17 municipalities in putting us in position where we feel very confident that the facilities will be top notch.”
Canadian freestyle wrestler, Ohenewa Akuffo, said she can’t wait for the Games to come to her home country. She won a silver medal the first time the sport was part of the Games in Santo Domingo in 2003 and repeated the feat four years later in Rio de Janeiro.
“It’s important to have the Games in my own backyard and for Canada to show off its diversity and everything else that makes this city a world-class metropolis,” said Akuffo, who won a silver medal in the 72-kg category at the female world championships in Moscow two weeks ago.
“Almost every athlete coming here will be able to identify with some aspect of their culture they will find in this city and that can happen in very few places in the world except Toronto.”