By Tom Degun

Paul Henderson_05-01-12January 5 - Paul Henderson (pictured), former President of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and the man who led the Toronto 1996 Olympic and Paralympic bid, has hit out at the city as it prepares to host 2015 Pan American Games saying that escalating costs could see the competition costing as much as $4 billion (£2.4 billion/€2.9 billion) to stage.

The 77-year-old Henderson, who served as an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member from 2000 to 2004, made the warning in a letter to the current Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty in which he says that the cost of the event to the tax payer could dramatically skyrocket.

"The magnitude of the total taxpayers' exposure should wake up those involved to the fact that major Toronto 2015 restructuring must be done," Henderson wrote

"Costs will, when all taxpayers' exposures and student taxes are totalled, be at least $4 billion.

"In these difficult times, consultants, and others looking for jobs, will tell the various political arenas what they want to hear not what they should be clearly told."

If Henderson is correct, Toronto 2015 would be nearly over three times over their original $1.4 billion (£900 million/€1.08 billion) meaning that the city was make a huge loss from hosting the event.

A large amount of money is going towards that Athletes' Village in Portland though authorities have reiterated that the event is on budget.

"Ontario, along with the federal and municipal Governments, have given Toronto 2015 a mandate to deliver on time and on budget," said Lise Jolicoeur, spokesman for Premier McGuinty.

"Toronto 2015 has submitted a business plan which is currently under careful review."

varsity stadium_05-01-12
Henderson has suggested savings that he claims would approach $1 billion (£650 million/€784.6 million) which include running the Pan American Games and Parapan American Games simultaneously and using more existing facilities such as the Varsity Stadium (pictured) for athletics rather than building a new stadium at York University.

He also suggests to "review over-the-top facilities" including the "two major white elephants" in the "swimming pools and velodrome".

"Temporary swimming pools required should be built outdoors with temporary seating as was done in Athens, Barcelona, Los Angeles," Henderson wrote.

"We should also double up venues using facilities already designated like use Ricoh Coliseum for both gymnastics and wrestling and use Roy Thomson Hall for fencing and weightlifting.

"It is over two years since Toronto was awarded 2015 Pan and Pan Para Games and no firm contracts have been signed with either the various construction consortia or with the stakeholders who represent the many levels of taxpayers' dollars that will fund and operate the multitude of venues."

Henderson a former world-class sailor appeared in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics for Canada was an early supporter of Toronto 2015 but now appears to have become a critic of the event.

The Toronto 2015 chairman David Peterson suggests that despite impressive credentials, Henderson is not a major authority on the issue.

"Nobody takes him seriously anymore," Peterson said of Henderson.

"He acts like he's the only one who cares about athletics in Canada."

Contact the writer of this story at [email protected]

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