Vancouver could still enter the race to host the Winter Olympics, 20 years after it last staged the Games ©Getty Images

Vancouver City Council has pushed back a debate on a bid from the city for the 2030 Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games after voting in favour of postponing talks until early next year.

The potential candidacy from the Canadian city had been due to be discussed by the City Council at its meeting yesterday, but members decided to refer a motion to the first quarter of 2021.

According to Daily Hive, Councillor Melissa De Genova said the decision had been made to allow "speakers [to] come out on either side, for or against, to help inform us of what they want, and to see where things will be at with the pandemic and what our recovery will be like".

It will also allow the Municipal Government’s Sport Hosting Vancouver (SHV) department, which bids and supports major sporting events held in the city, to conduct a preliminary report on the feasibility of a bid for the Games in 10 years' time.

Vancouver Mayor Kennedy Stewart backed the postponement, admitting the City Council was "just swamped with things right now".

Approval of the motion in the early part of 2021 will be a considerable step towards Vancouver, which staged the 2010 Winter Olympics and Paralympics, formalising a bid.

It would see the City Council begin talks with the Canadian Olympic Committee and other stakeholders, such as the Provincial and Federal Governments, on whether they would support a candidacy from Vancouver.

"To have a report back on the feasibility of this, I think there is a real opportunity that can come from a further Olympic host city role, particularly around issues of equity, diversity, and legacy pieces that could support our most vulnerable citizens, including housing," said Councillor Lisa Dominato.

"I’d be really interested from hearing back from city staff on what some opportunities might look like in the context of an Olympics, and how we could look at benefiting a wide range of residents through legacy pieces, as well as celebrating sport and making that inclusive as well and accessible."

John Furlong, the former chief executive and President of Vancouver 2010, called on the city to throw its hat in the ring in February.

Canada has been gripped by the global health crisis with more than 247,000 cases and more than 10,300 deaths from COVID-19.

The debate had been scheduled for April 1 before being postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pyrenees-Barcelona in Spain, Japanese city Sapporo and Salt Lake City in the United States are the other cities in discussions with the International Olympic Committee's (IOC) Future Winter Host Commission, which identifies and recommends venues for the Olympic Games.

Spanish officials have put on hold their bid for the Games amid uncertainty caused by COVID-19, while Salt Lake City, which hosted the Winter Olympics in 2002, has not yet decided whether it will bid for 2030 or 2034.

Sapporo appeared to be the frontrunner earlier this year when a delegation of Japanese officials held talks with the IOC and its President Thomas Bach but momentum has slowed as the country focuses on organising the postponed Tokyo 2020 Olympics and Paralympics.

The IOC has not set a timetable for the award of the 2030 Games under its new process to select hosts for the event.