Just two weeks after being sworn-in, Mayor Ken Sim is jetting off to Qatar to enjoy the FIFA World Cup.
Sim is said to be paying his own way for a trip booked before he was elected on Oct. 15. He will miss his first opportunity to chair the Vancouver Police Board at its Nov. 24 meeting. Neither Toronto Mayor John Tory nor Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell are traveling to Qatar, according to their respective press secretaries.
Vancouver is one of 16 host cities for the 2026 tournament. City hall is already spending up to $25,000 to send an employee of the Sport Hosting Vancouver office and two police officers to observe the tournament for six to seven days each.
“We will not be disclosing the staff member’s name at this time for privacy and security reasons,” said Natasha Qereshniku of the city hall communication department.
Sport Hosting Vancouver counts two employees: manager Michelle Collens and assistant manager Taunya Geelhoed.
Sgt. Steve Addison said the two Vancouver Police officers are from the Emergency Operations and Planning Section and they will be away for a week in early December, including travel days.
“As a 2026 host city, the Vancouver Police Department is responsible for safety and security at venues and throughout the city,” Addison said. “We expect World Cup 2026 will draw visitors from around the world and present unique safety challenges. It’s important for us to meet with and draw on the experiences of other host cities as we prepare.”
The cost to taxpayers for hosting five matches in 2026 is estimated at $260 million.
Toronto city hall said it is sending the project manager of its 2026 World Cup secretariat, Dan Surman. Surman’s approved budget is $6,912.37 for travel, accommodation and meals during the Dec. 3-6 observer program.
The B.C. Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport is not sending anyone, but the Crown corporation that operates B.C. Place Stadium is.
“There are two senior team members participating in the FIFA observer program, both will be directly accountable for the planning and execution of FIFA World Cup 2026 at BC Place,” said B.C. Pavilion Corporation spokeswoman Meaghan Benmore. “One other staff member attended the field management observer program earlier this month. The estimated budget for all three participants will be $30,000, they will be in Qatar for five-to-eight days each.”
FIFA World Cup 2022 runs Nov. 20-Dec. 18 in Qatar. Canada qualified for the first time since competing at Mexico 1986.
The 2010 naming of Qatar to host the 2022 World Cup sparked a major transnational corruption investigation that climaxed in 2015 just before the 2015 Women’s World Cup, which ended at B.C. Place.
Australia, Japan, South Korea and the U.S. were the other bidders for a tournament that normally takes place in June and July.
The tournament is estimated to cost the Arab nation of 2.8 million a record $220 billion. Qatar has has also gained attention for human rights and labour abuses related to the building of stadiums.