It may seem a little ‘eager’ on our part, but our Québec team and I met this week to discuss a plan of action for helping Québec City secure the 2022 or 2026 winter Olympics.  Coming off the very successful Vancouver games, it was so evident to me that the planning around a successful bid can’t begin too soon.  Securing a successful bid is a wonderful dream, but dreams can only be achieved if you have the buy-in of a dedicated team and a consistent plan of action based on excellence.
Québec City has already set up an Olympic organizing committee headed by Claude Rousseau and a well connected board from the city’s business and government leadership.  The new head of the Canadian Olympic committee, Marcel Aubut (former owner of the Québec Nordiques) is also an enthusiastic supporter of a Québec City bid and is quickly moving to build a team dedicated to this cause.
On the surface, Québec should be a strong contender.  It is a perfect size city to host the winter games.  It has a climate conducive to plenty of snow!  And early indications are it will be seen by the local population as a unique opportunity to showcase Québec City’s cultural and business strengths.
There will of course be major challenge, particularly on infrastructure, as there are with every Olympics.  There is already a movement afoot to build a new NHL quality hockey area and the ski hill is not capable of holding all the downhill events at this time.  Creative solutions will have to be found and private sector support from across Canada will have to be mobilized in tandem with federal and provincial efforts to fund this infrastructure.  These games are so expensive that this type of cross-Canada commitment will be necessary if Québec City is to avoid the long lasting deficit experience created from the Montréal Olympics.
From H&K and HKDP’s (our Québec subsidiary) standpoint the games offer a unique opportunity to play an important role in presenting Québec City and Canada to the world while at the same time capitalizing on some very good business opportunities.  Hill &Knowlton played a pivotal role in helping the COC present its case to the federal government for the funding for its own podium program.  We acted as the communications consultants to the Vancouver Olympic Committee and helped activate the Olympic sponsorship programs for Coke‘s torch relay and the Royal Canadian Mint.  These and other assignments contributed much to our successful year last year and so we will do everything we can to help secure the Québec City bid.
Of course 12 years from now is a long time and I will probably be getting ready to retire.  But based upon the fun and excitement we had in Vancouver, an Olympic party in Québec City would be a great way to close out a wonderful career.