Canada’s federal sport minister hears the chatter and it’s flattering but no one is committing serious thought to a hosting bid for the next giant multi-sports Games.
Bal Gosal, the Brampton-area MP and for four years the minister of state for sport, knows there are those who would think a successful Pan Am Games might logically lead to grandiose thoughts of bidding on an Olympics.
“It is up to COC (Canadian Olympic Committee), CPC (Canadian Paralympic Committee) and organizing committees,” he said Tuesday. “The government of Canada always helps sport create legacies, build facilities, and helps host different events.
“Again, it’s provincial, municipal, federal governments … working together, we can achieve anything.”
With the Pan Ams drawing larger than expected crowds – officials say more than 900,000 of 1.4 million tickets have now been sold – dreams of a larger, far more expensive endeavour are emerging, in part because of facilities built for the Pan Ams.
“When you walk through the athletes’ village, people who are from the international associations tell us that this is an Olympic-style facility,” he said.
Regardless of any future multi-sports event plans, Gosal points to the facilities that the Pan Ams will leave to the next generation of Canadian athletes. The Pan Am Games price tag will come in at more than $2.5 billion but that will include venues that can be used for decades.
And the feel-good nature of Canada’s performance so far counts as much.
“The inspiration we get from the Games, especially the younger generation of athletes, produces more Olympians, Paralympians, high performance athletes. Even kids get involved in sports and physical activity, they become more healthy. I talk to a lot of parents who bring kids to games and they want to get involved in that game.”
What was your favourite sport growing up?
Soccer. I enjoyed different sports. I played field hockey, cricket and soccer growing up then in college and university I played soccer. I coach soccer here in the GTA.
Since getting on this portfolio, I tried a lot of different sports.
Who was your favourite athlete growing up?
I grew up in India and Pele was the big thing when I was growing up. He was the main guy. There are some other local heroes but Pele was the biggest international star.
Is there one event you’d like to see?
At these Games? No, I enjoy every event. I want to see more Canadians on the podium, that’s the ultimate goal.