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Toronto Olympics pass IOC technical standards with flying colours



Paris and Beijing also pass test; Olympic Committee VP endorse China

Supporters of Toronto’s bid to host the 2008 Olympic Games received some good news and some bad news this week.

The good news is that Toronto scored high on the technical evaluation released by the International Olympic Committee on May 15.

The bad news is that Paris and Beijing also received high marks, and IOC vice president Kevan Gosper of Australia has already voiced his support for China’s bid: "I believe an important responsibility we have is to keep moving the Games around the world. Here we have a huge country which has never had the Games. This could be an event which encourages an even greater degree of openness."

The Toronto 2008 bid committee is still confident it can win, however, and was encouraged by the specific wording in the 100-page technical review. The report suggested that both Toronto and Paris "would" stage excellent Summer Games, and that Beijing "could" host excellent games. Evaluations of the Istanbul and Osaka bids were not as positive.

"This report clearly says that Toronto’s bid is excellent in many ways," said Ontario Premier Mike Harris, who was in Switzerland for the release of the report. "It confirms what we’ve know all along – Toronto has the ability to host an outstanding Olympics in 2008. And governments have created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity in unlocking a prime piece of urban geography for the world’s peacetime event – the Olympic Games."

Toronto bid committee head John Bitove also took an optimistic view of the report. "When athletes of the world review the report, we believe that they will choose Toronto as the best environment in which to realize their Olympic dreams after all their years of hard work. All along our goal has been to make sure that Toronto has the strongest technical bid – and this report confirms that we do.

"We hope the decision in July will be based on the strengths of each bid, and on what each bid will bring to the Olympic movement and to sport."

The IOC evaluated each city’s bid based on a set of 18 criteria, including sports venues, infrastructure, transportation, hotel accommodations, finances, public support, environment, and other issues. Absent from the list were politics and human rights issues.

The report is considered important because IOC members will take a copy with them to Moscow to study prior to casting their ballots in Moscow on July 13.

No bid is perfect.

The Paris bid may be hampered by a seeming lack of public support – while their bid committee claimed 79 per cent support in Paris, an IOC poll found only 66 per cent support in Paris and 65 per cent in France. Air and water pollution within the city were listed as concerns, as was the high cost of living and the possibility that a number of events would have to take place well outside of the city limits. The proposed Olympic Village will also need work.