Unaffiliated 'Vancouver 2030' group causing confusion for official Olympic bid team

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The front page of Vancouver2030.org, a website causing confusion about Canada's bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. (Screenshot from Vancouver2030.org - image credit)
The front page of Vancouver2030.org, a website causing confusion about Canada's bid for the 2030 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. (Screenshot from Vancouver2030.org - image credit)

Search online for information on the Canadian Olympic Committee's bid to host the 2030 Olympics and you'll likely find yourself on a site called Vancouver2030.org, an official looking site that has its own Twitter account, registration page and invites you to "Reignite the Passion."

But scroll way down to the bottom and you'll see a disclaimer that it is not actually affiliated with the COC or the Canadian Paralympic Committee.

For Canadian officials preparing their bid to host the 2030 Olympics and Paralympics in B.C., that's a problem.

"My understanding is they're a group of passionate supporters of the Games, so that's terrific," said Tricia Smith, president of the COC. "We've asked them to please make it clear to media when they speak to them that that is what they're doing, because there is some confusion that some people think that they are the organizers of a potential bid, which is not the case."

Under International Olympic Committee rules, the national Olympic committees determine a country's official bid. The COC has done that, aligning with a group of four First Nations in a historic Indigenous-led bid to explore the feasibility of bringing the Games back to B.C.

Emilio Rivero, who bills himself as the CEO of Vancouver 2030, said his group's original intention was to pursue a bid with the COC, but says his goal now to promote the bid.

Rivero said "the notion of us misleading or getting people confused [is] hard to accept.

"There's a clear statement on our website that we are not the official [bid], that we do not form part or belong to the Canadian Olympic Committee," he said.

WATCH | What you should know about Vancouver's 2030 bid:

That exploration phase of the COC-led bid is in progress. The IOC visited B.C. earlier this week, while the involved Canadian groups hope to finalize what the bid itself looks like around June. The IOC is expected to open the official bid process in the fall.

Misrepresentation of self on TV

Rivero appeared on CBC-TV during the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, misrepresenting himself as a leader of Canada's bid.

Rivero said that he included a disclaimer that his group is not sanctioned by the COC in all email correspondences with CBC. However, there was no such clarification in emails to set up an interview for this story, nor were there any in an email chain to set up an interview with CBC Sports' digital show The Extra Hour during Beijing 2022, which never made it to air.

"We're not looking for the limelight. We're actually hoping to have good meetings [with the COC] at some point in the future [when] the bid is official," Rivero said.

He said the Vancouver 2030 group includes 25 staff members and has garnered about 20,000 signatures from Canadians in support of the bid.

"No one in our organization is getting paid or selling any merchandise. We are one hundred per cent volunteering our time and our skills for the idea of the Games to return to Vancouver in 2030 to become a reality," Rivero said.

The last contact between the COC and Vancouver 2030 was sometime last fall.

Rivero said that conversation, of which he and Smith were both part, was when his group learned of IOC changes to the bidding process. The new process puts potential bids mainly in the hands of national Olympic committees.

However, that change was approved by the IOC in June 2019. The Vancouver 2030 group was incorporated as a not-for-profit in February 2020.

"We had a discussion that there seemed to be some confusion out there and thought it would be helpful that when they were contacted by media to make sure they referred media to us," Smith said.

Potential dispute over name

With the COC-sanctioned bid process still in exploration stages, it does not yet have an official name or dedicated website.

Smith said the COC isn't interested in the Vancouver 2030 name since it isn't a Vancouver bid. The group is currently referring to itself as B.C. 2030, but that name is born of convenience.

Rivero said his group has no intention of changing its name.

"I understand that some people might be upset by that. They see that an organization has a legal right to call themselves Vancouver 2030. But we do hold up in principle that Canada is a country that is based on democracy, civil liberties and rights and volunteering."

Smith would not commit when asked if the COC has any interest in working with Vancouver 2030.

"If they're supporting the Olympics in Vancouver, that's terrific. There just seems to be some confusion over their role."

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