September 15, 2015 / 3:06 PM / 2 years ago

Toronto mayor says not right time for 2024 Games bid

The moon turns orange during a total lunar eclipse behind the CN Tower and the skyline during moonset in Toronto October 8, 2014. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

TORONTO (Reuters) - Toronto will not bid for the 2024 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games, the mayor of Canada’s largest city said on Tuesday while promising to create a panel to advise on bidding for future major sporting events.

Stressing a desire to improve more pressing infrastructure and transit needs, Toronto Mayor John Tory said the city would benefit from hosting an Olympic Games but not in 2024.

“I can’t look people in the eye at this point in our city’s development and tell them that an Olympic bid is the best use of our time, our energy or our investment,” Tory, who announced his decision on the final day to submit a letter of intent to the International Olympic Committee, told a news conference.

“But now I can look in the eyes of my colleagues at other levels of government and say this, together we should be making the investment talked about in the context of the Olympics.”

Despite deciding against a bid for the multi-sport event, Tory said he will form an advisory group to look at the merits of competing for international events in the future, including the Olympics and FIFA World Cup.

While opponents have argued that an Olympic bid would consume too much public money, backers were greatly encouraged after Toronto successfully hosted this year’s Pan American Games.

For 16 days in July, Toronto had a taste of the Olympic experience and ate it up with gusto as over 1 million tickets were sold and Canadian athletes enjoyed unprecedented success in the multi-sport event between countries from North America, Latin America, South America and the Caribbean.

But in the end, it was not enough to convince Tory to enter Toronto into a race for the 2024 Games that already includes heavy favorite Paris, Los Angeles, Rome, Budapest and Hamburg.

Toronto has failed in five previous attempts to host the Olympics, the most recent being a bid for the 2008 Summer Games that ended in a second-place finish to Beijing.

Rio de Janeiro will host the Summer Games next year with Tokyo holding the event for a second time in 2020.

“I believe that one day Toronto will be a great venue for the Olympic Games, but not in 2024,” said Tory. “Let me be clear, I am not saying no to the Olympics, I am saying not this time.”

Editing by Pritha Sarkar

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