Archived columns and blog posts by Matt Elliott

Forget a bid for the Games, Toronto should host a 'Fakelympics'

By: Metro Published on Mon Jul 27 2015

The Pan Am Games are over. With an assist from Kanye West, last night’s closing ceremony marked the end of a fun couple of weeks in Toronto that — sorry, haters — seemed to go pretty well.

So, obviously, because Toronto managed to pull off one multi-national sporting event, there’s immediately talk about hosting another, bigger one. After five previous failed bids, local politicians are again thinking about landing the Olympics.

Mayor John Tory was asked about the idea repeatedly last week and wouldn’t rule it out.

I wish he would.

It’s not that I’m opposed to the idea of Toronto ever hosting. I like sports and I like infrastructure. I even like that silly feeling of patriotism that swells up after someone who happens to be from the same country as me runs really fast.

But I dread the idea of another should-we-host-the-Olympics debate. It has the potential to be messy and divisive.

I recently spent some time in Boston, where fierce battle lines have been drawn between those in support of the city’s bid for the 2024 Games and those who want the whole thing scrapped. Toronto doesn’t need that. Without a clear mandate for a bid through a referendum, let’s steer clear.

Besides, there’s a clear alternative to hosting the Olympics. Instead of going out and spending lots of money in an attempt to land the real games, we could just pretend. Let’s set a deadline and act like we’re going to be the host city — even though we aren’t.

Let’s host the Fakelympics.

We’ll start by quickly developing the city’s port lands as an athletes’ village for the fake athletes. Make it a vibrant neighbourhood with affordable housing.

Then, to help people get to the fake events, let’s invest in a relief-line subway running from downtown up to Sheppard Avenue through the eastern part of the city.

And, of course, it would be embarrassing to bring in fake visitors for the Fakelympics if our parks aren’t well maintained and the public fountains don’t work. So let’s work to improve our public realm. More public art like that colourful Toronto sign in Nathan Phillips Square would be pretty neat.

And let’s make ongoing investments in cultural and recreational facilities across the city, to ensure a Fakelympic legacy.

Of course, the downside of the Fakelympics is that the real athletes of the world won’t ever show up. But that’s OK. Without them, we can avoid the extravagant and unnecessary expenses. No giant security fences needed.

And, in the end, Toronto will end up with the infrastructure and public services we need anyway — and a city we can be a little more proud of.

I like the sound of that. Fakelympic fever: catch it.

This post was originally published at on 2015-07-27T00:00:00.000Z

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Matt Elliott

City Hall watcher, columnist and policy wonk in Toronto.
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