THUNDER BAY — The City of Thunder Bay has been chosen to host the 2024 Ontario Winter Games, setting the stage for one of the largest sporting events in the city’s history.
Held every two years, the games feature thousands athletes from ages 12 to 18 competing in close to 30 sports, including alpine skiing, artistic swimming, speed skating, and wheelchair basketball.
“This will be the first time these games have been held in Thunder Bay since 1974,” said Mayor Bill Mauro in a statement. “We look forward to welcoming the best young athletes from across Ontario to our city and providing them with our exceptional Northwestern Ontario hospitality.”
The Ontario government is providing the City of Thunder Bay with up to $1.4 million in funding to host the games, higher than the amount normally given to host cities.
That could help address higher transportation costs for participants, raised as a potential concern when the city’s bid was being developed in 2020.
The games are expected to attract up to 3,500 participants including athletes, coaches, and officials. The province said that will bring a projected economic impact of over $5 million locally.
“By supporting the Ontario Winter Games, we are showing the sporting world that world-class events can be held right here in Northwestern Ontario,” said Minister of Northern Development Greg Rickford. “These events will give the region, and its tourism and hospitality sector, a well-needed economic boost.”
The city will be required to contribute at least $250,000 to the roughly $2-million cost of hosting the games.
Host cities are also required to provide travel subsidies to assist participants. That cost Orillia around $75,000 in 2020, but during bid development, city staff estimated it could cost Thunder Bay up to $500,000.
The province typically provides $900,000 in funding and a $100,000 legacy fund.
Other costs are covered by registration fees (estimated at $220,000), grants, sponsorships, and fundraising.