The Olympics and Toronto
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 13 Apr 1989, p. 332-340
Henderson, Paul, Speaker
Media Type
Item Type
Now in the fourth year of a five-year quest to bring the Games of the 26th Olympiad to Toronto. The issue of finances, with an review which includes a look at some past Olympics (Montreal and Los Angeles). Details as to how Toronto would run the Olympics. Possible effects of the Dubin Enquiry on Toronto's bid. A place for the WheelChair Athletes and for the Special Olympics. Putting Toronto forward as the candidate to host the Games of the 26th Olympiad.
Date of Original
13 Apr 1989
Language of Item
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The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
Paul Henderson Businessman and Sportsman
Chairman: A.A. van Straubenzee President


Paul Henderson is a character. He says that he parks his plumbing truck outside his friends' homes when they have parties because he caters to the Carriage Trade and it's like a Birks Box.

Well, when I think of my good neighbour, Paul Henderson, two quotes come to mind. From Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors:

What he hath scanted men in hair, he bath given them in wit. And from Horace's Satires:

Many recite their writings in the bath. How pleasantly the vaulted space echoes the voice.

Paul Henderson has certainly not spent the majority of his time in front of a mirror, nor has he been singing in the bathtub. As most of you know, he is a former Olympic sailor and president of the Toronto plumbing repair company R. G. Henderson and Son Ltd.

As a sailor, he participated in the Canadian Olympic Yacht Trials from 1952 to 1984. In 1972 he was coach of the Canadian Olympic Yachting team. His yachting championships include titles from Canada, the U.S., North America, the Netherlands, Bermuda and the World Yachting Championship.

He is still very involved with the International Yacht Racing Union. He was an international judge, a member of the Policy Commission, and VicePresident from 1980 to 1989. He was a member of the National Council for

Fitness and Amateur Sport from 1974 to 1976; President of the Toronto Racquet Club; Director of the Canadian Olympic Association, and ViceCommodore of the Royal Canadian Yacht Club.

He is also a Director of the Canadian Epilepsy Association and the Metropolitan Toronto Convention Centre. Popeye the Sailor Man never had such a complete life or as much energy.

Paul is a fierce competitor, a tough leader with high standards and he is a raconteur par excellence. I know something else about Paul that he doesn't know I know. He is a generous donor to worthy causes, but he does it anonymously.

As President and CEO of his firm, he oversees a large commercial food equipment parts and services operation complete with a plumbing, heating and refrigeration setup that looks after hundreds of Toronto restaurants.

As we all know, 1996 will be the 100th anniversary of the modern Olympics. Paul Henderson, since 1986, has been President of the Toronto Ontario Olympic Council (TOOC), working with tremendous dedication to win the 1996 bid to host the Summer Olympic Games. Competition is tough and includes rival bids from Melbourne, Manchester and, of course, Athens. The decision will be made in Tokyo in 1990.

The budget for the bid is $12 million, of which $2 million is from the federal government; $3 million from the provincial government, and $7 million from business.

Our speaker said recently:

Our whole Olympic bid is based on the fact that this is Toronto, Ontario, which means Meeting Place on the Great Lake. So why not focus on the lake, which is our greatest asset.

The organizers of the bid are private corporations that have contributed several million dollars to put together this bid. The key to the bid is to make certain that if Toronto is successful, the Games will leave something tangible for the community.

Ontario's Premier David Peterson has been quoted as saying that without Henderson there would be no bid. He has won support from many key politicians and business people. The critical and financial success of the Calgary Olympic Games has given him momentum.

It would be exciting if we could host the Games. We hope Paul Henderson is not too exhausted from travelling to delegate countries. He has made a point of visiting the homes of the delegates to sell Toronto. During the recent Summit, he provided free blimp rides to delegates to sell Toronto as a showcase, world-class city and, of course, the only place for the Summer Games.

The original Greek Olympic Games were held every four years at the sanctuary of Olympia in southern Greece from 770 BC to 393 AD, when they were abolished by the Roman Emperor Theodosius. Well, I'm no

Emperor, but at the moment I am the Emperor of the Empire Club, so I guess I can say that if it were up to me, I would grant Paul Henderson his wish.

Paul Henderson:

First of all, I have to clean up your introduction of the head table. We have a very famous athlete in Steve Podborski, who is our great downhill ski racer. But you kind of sloughed over the prettiest face here outside of Margaret Scrivener. Sue Holloway is one of the few women in the world, or few people in the world, ever to compete in both the Summer and the Winter Olympic Games. She competed in cross-country skiing in the Winter Games and won a Silver Medal in Los Angeles in canoeing. And I think we should say well done. She is dynamite. She's also out of work.

Thank you, Tony, for your usual patronizing introduction. As you know, I have the highest position in the world ever attained by a plumber. I am vice-president of the International Yacht Racing Union. I was in Sydney, Australia, a few years ago for a meeting and we were invited to the most prestigious club that I have ever been in, the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron, and we had a cocktail party. But I decided that I wanted to go and see the Sydney Opera House and so, as usual, I was a little late for the cocktail party. I arrived at the Royal Sydney Yacht Squadron and I wasn't sure which door to go in so I went against my usual habit and went in the front door.

And as I walked in the front door, this rather matronly lady sashayed up to me and said: "I've met the King of Norway and I've met the King of Greece and I've met this lovely man from the Soviet Union, where are you from?

And I said: "Toronto."

And she said: "What do you do in Toronto?" And I said: "I'm a plumber."

And it's about the longest pregnant pause you've ever seen in your life and she disappeared. And about 20 minutes later she appeared saying: "I know, all you doctors say you're plumbers." She couldn't bring herself to think it.

We're now in the fourth year of a five-year quest to bring the Games of the 26th Olympiad to Toronto. Toronto has had an interest in hosting the Games since 1964 when Bill Allen thought it was a good idea and decided to bid against Montreal and Hamilton for the games of 1976. In the first round, Montreal got 18 votes; Toronto got 18 votes, and Hamilton got 3.

On the next round, you know what happened, Montreal got 21 votes and the rest is history.

The first question everyone asks is "what about finances?" I guess I've heard that same question from everybody for three years. They always say: "Remember Montreal".

Well let's set something straight right now. As I travel the world lobbying IOC members, they, without exception, say that the Montreal Games were the best games ever run. The organization and hospitality were first-rate. As we have studied the various games, we have found that in an operating sense, Montreal made a larger surplus than Los Angeles. Their problem was in the capital cost.

But let's remember something else. Montreal built subways, roads, stadiums, which are still used today and they wrote them off against two weeks of the Olympic Games. If they had used any normal business amortization schedule, say even 10 years, Montreal would have broken even. They made mistakes such as hiring a French architect, who didn't realize Montreal was not the Riviera and built an Olympic apartment complex with outside corridors - great in June but cold as hell in January.

The Big 0 was elliptical in shape to try to house the track and field stadium inside a baseball-football stadium. No two pieces are the same. Every building that I know of is usually built rectangular or like our Dome Stadium, round, so every piece is like a pie exactly the same as the other. The Big 0 cost $1 billion. At exactly the same time in Pontiac, Michigan, where they've had the Super Bowl, they built the Silver Dome by private enterprise for $70 million - roof and everything. If Montreal had built the Silver Dome instead of the Big 0, they would have broken even in absolute terms.

Everyone thinks Los Angeles started the revenueproducing schemes. The truth of the matter is that Montreal started the lotteries, coins, and stamp programs and corporate sponsorship. Montreal was really the first of the modern Olympics. And as we should know in this country, nobody ever said the pioneers were going to have it easy. Los Angeles studied the Montreal model, used all the initiatives of Montreal, kept the capital costs under control and had a surplus of over $400 million U.S. which has provided a healthy trust fund for athletes.

Everyone then says, we must do it like Los Angeles, and I say, no. Los Angeles made a surplus but left few residual facilities to the city. They still do not have a rowing course, they do not have an Olympic swimming pool and they don't have the most important facility, a small-boat regatta course. And they built no affordable housing projects. Calgary is a much better model to follow. They built first-class facilities, they made a profit, which all plumbers like, and have a trust fund over $100 million left to maintain the facilities for amateur sport. We should be very proud of what Calgary did.

Although we had nothing to do with it, Toronto just happens to be in the most lucrative TV market in the world, with the built-in, sophisticated production capability in English, French, Spanish and every other possible language. There is speculation that the TV rights may be as high as $750 million when they come back to East Coast U.S. Television. Speak about free trade, 90 per cent comes from out of Canada. Although we were told that corporate sponsorship was only a U.S. phenomenon, we have been able to attract 60 of the best corporations in Canada - five banks, five breweries, four oil companies. Thank God for Air Canada, also Canadian Airlines and City Express. Three computer companies, and for the first time ever, Ford and General Motors have been in the same promotion. McDonald's, Coke and Kodak are typical Olympic sponsors who are definitely in and we even have CBC, CTV, and Rogers Cable TV. And TSN is always there when we need them. They all have joined with the desire to help their city host the games of the 26th Olympiad. We have asked for no ongoing position. They just want to be part of the bid. I should let you know that these corporations have committed $8.4 million to the bid.

So let's look at how Toronto should position itself in hosting the Games. The first and most important point is to give the youth of the world an experience that will stay with them all their lives. We must remember that the media focuses on the Gold Medal winners of which there are 249. There are 12,000 athletes from 170 countries who will be coming to this city. Up to 50 per cent will never leave their country again. The IOC's No. 1 concern is this Olympic experience for these athletes. As far as the City of Toronto is concerned, we should do it totally looking at the residual benefit to the citizens of Toronto. Toronto's Director of Parks and Recreation has publicly stated the Olympic Games will give Toronto facilities in six years that it could not achieve in 30 years with normal planning. We would finally get a rowing course. Ned Hanlon would be very proud. A vellodrome in Etobicoke. We'll get an Olympic swimming pool. Fifteen schools within 25 kilometres of Toronto will get world-class running tracks and every school gym will be upgraded. Markham and Mississauga would get athletic complexes and on and on. Events will be scheduled from St. Catharines to Hamilton to London to Sudbury to Kingston.

I must tell you that in scheduling the events from London to Sudbury to Kingston to Niagara-on-the-Lake, this will be the most compact Olympic Games ever held. As far as support, the City Council of Toronto which can't even vote consistently on what the weather is, let alone support something like the Olympic Games, voted 20 to zero to support the bid for the Olympics.

When I first went to see David Peterson, I gave him my pitch and he immediately said, "I'm with you." And he has been one of our great supporters. And we have the total commitment of the Federal Government.

I was born at 21 3rd Street, Wards Island. Toronto Bay is my home, and you can take by that, Tony, that anybody who drank a lot of Toronto Bay water would lose their hair. I was just in China. They've got a new elixir there that hopefully will work. Hopefully the Olympic Games will be the catalyst to return the lake to the city. If we can get the Olympic Village in the East Parkland, and clean up the Don River as the Koreans did the Hahn River in Seoul, and with the installation of a rowing course in the western Beaches, we can tie the Beaches area of Toronto to the Humber with people parks. We will have endowed this city forever.

Everyone says that we can't use the SkyDome for the Olympics. The truth of the matter is that consciously the Dome was not built to house track and field. It was the best decision they made. If they had they would have had a terrible baseball and football stadium and two weeks after the Olympic Games they would have put a bulldozer through it and torn up that beautiful facility. We will use SkyDome for the opening and closing ceremonies possibly, nine days of gymnastics, three days of baseball, the semi-finals and finals of volleyball, the finals of boxing and field hockey. The gate receipts alone for the two weeks of the Olympic Games at the SkyDome will be $100 million.

The new Olympic Stadium is scheduled to be built on the site of the old exhibition stadium and, after the Games, be left about the size of Varsity Stadium, as a basic stadium, with natural grass for soccer. The Olympic Stadium should be designed to be the centre for sport and fitness in this region. It should be the training centre for the elite athletes, as well as their instructors and school Phys. Ed. teachers. I would like to see it used for sport and fitness as the wilderness school on the Island is used for nature studies. Each Grade 7 or 8 class would live at the Olympic Stadium for a week and learn about fitness, nutrition, and hopefully the consequences of drugs. The Olympic Games Charter says the host city must display all aspects of the community during the Olympiad which is a four-year term. Therefore, the cultural events are really a significant program. The Opera House will be a major facility in our planning and I hope they build it. The cultural events in Los Angeles were run by a man from Toronto. They didn't have anybody in Los Angeles capable of doing it so they got somebody from here. They sold 380,000 tickets for the performing arts alone in a 10-week period.

People are now asking what effect the Dubin Enquiry is having on our bid. The world press is very complimentary that Canada is not sweeping it under the table. Everyone has been aware of it for a long time. And the IOC sent out a message to the world before Seoul to clean it up. Remember it was a Canadiaa-designed lab with a Montreal doctor who ran the testing in Seoul. The Russians, the Americans, the English, the Australians, the Romanians, the Bulgarians, almost every country in the world have admitted their athletes have a problem. And they're setting in place programs to ensure that a chemical enhancement of an athletic performance will have no place ir, Olympic Sport.

Toronto has a medical infrastructure second to none. Our city has given to the world insulin, the measles vaccine, openheart surgery, Variety Village. We will provide the most advanced anti-doping test possible. We will test every athlete before they compete to send a message to the youth of the world that drugs should not be part of our society.

Also, we believe that all parts of the athletic community should have their day and to this end we will schedule competitions in the Olympic Stadium for the WheelChair Athletes and for the Special Olympics for the Mentally Challenged.

For the next 18 months, a team of Torontonians will be travelling the world promoting our candidature and also hosting the IOC members and the presidents of the International Sports Federations in Toronto. Our greatest asset is our city and its people. As you know, everyone in the world has a relative in Toronto. Fortunately, many of the IOC members know the city very well.

Toronto is very, very well known. If we get the right to host the games, every team that comes to Toronto will have a resident cheering section. The Estonian community points out that Estonia won more medals in Seoul than Canada, a very painful statement. As the past President of the International Olympic Committee pointed out, the difference between Los Angeles and Calgary was that in Los Angeles, if an American was not in the finals, nobody went; in Calgary, Canadians cheered for everyone - Eddie The Eagle, the Jamaican Bobsled Team and our own Elizabeth Manley and Brian Orser.

Tomorrow is the last day that cities can declare their bid. So the competition, I guess, is now on the table. There's Athens, which I think you all know about, Atlanta, Georgia; Melbourne, Australia; Belgrade, Yugoslavia; Manchester, England; and Toronto. It's the 100th Anniversary of the founding of the modern Olympic games.

We believe that the tradition of the Olympic family should be honoured in a celebration in Greece at the time of the original games in April, centred on the sending of the flame to all the Olympic Cities, being reunited at the chosen site of the 1996 Games which will be a celebration of today's youth in the city that best lives the Olympic dream. Toronto is the chosen city of people from every country in the world. We ask that they respect each others traditions, to work together, to build together and to live in peace. In those terms, we put our city, Toronto, forward as a candidate to host the Games of the 26th Olympiad and trust that you will join us in our quest.

The appreciation of the meeting was expressed by Robert C. Watt, a Toronto lawyer and Director of the Empire Club of Canada.

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The Olympics and Toronto

Now in the fourth year of a five-year quest to bring the Games of the 26th Olympiad to Toronto. The issue of finances, with an review which includes a look at some past Olympics (Montreal and Los Angeles). Details as to how Toronto would run the Olympics. Possible effects of the Dubin Enquiry on Toronto's bid. A place for the WheelChair Athletes and for the Special Olympics. Putting Toronto forward as the candidate to host the Games of the 26th Olympiad.