'Little things' key to victory

BILL LANKHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:02 AM ET

GUADALAJARA -- So, in the mezzanine of the Hilton Hotel, there was David Peterson, former premier, passing out Timbits.

Later, he stood by a trolley, dishing out baby-sized red and white ice cream cones topped with a candy that read: Pan Am.

"It's the creativity ... the little things that can make all the difference," said Peterson, who has been a jovial whirlwind at this Pan American Games Congress to select a host city for the 2015 Games.

No hand will go unshaken, no ego will leave unstroked in the final, 24-hour countdown to today's vote.

Behind closed doors, current Premier Dalton McGuinty met with voting delegates last night.

"We're trying not to leave anything to chance," bid president Jagoda Pike said as guests dove into the pork jerk and shrimp at yesterday's Toronto 2015 luncheon.

Lima had put on a loud, raucous -- and very long -- dinner Wednesday night.

Yesterday, Toronto had the same room decked in red-and-white table dressings.

Everything else was decidedly low key. Quick speeches. Nobody nodding off in the gateau.

A Latin band that featured Amanda Martinez, a Toronto resident, had delegates up and dancing with former Canadian Olympians.

There were flying gymnasts, fencers and Buck the talking reindeer. He came off luncheon organizer Cheryl Heyd's cottage wall.

"I think he might be the most popular one here," said a beaming Pike.

But so much for the fun part. Behind all the smiles, emotions are running high.

FAILED ATTEMPTS

Toronto has already suffered two failed Olympic bids and Pike herself has been on the losing side in two Commonwealth Games bids by Hamilton.

Last night the Toronto committee went through a last-minute rehearsal of today's final presentation to voting delegates.

The drama begins to unfold at 9:30 when PASO president Vazquez Rana calls on Bogota to make its final presentation.

It'll be followed by Lima, with Toronto scheduled to make its pitch at 11:30.

While Bogota and Lima highlight their cultures, Toronto's presentation will have an athletic theme, including a trampolinist live on stage.

McGuinty will lead the 55-minute presentation. Then comes the vote.

The winning city needs 26 -- minimum. The Caribbean countries have 26 votes. After that 11 South American countries have 15 votes, five Latin American nations have five votes, and three North American countries have five votes.

Each country's Olympic president -- Michael Chambers has the two Canadian votes -- is called to the podium and given a secret ballot.

When all the countries have voted, either a winner is announced or, if no country has a clear majority, the city with the lowest vote is disqualified.

The whole process is then repeated.

While nobody questions Toronto's facilities or ability to run a succesful Games, the most-often heard downside from delegates involves the distance between venues and the fact Canada has twice hosted the Games.

"But we point out that Ontario hasn't had a major Games in 80 years. Canada is a big country," said Toronto bid senior adviser Bob Richardson.

Bogota and Lima both have major downsides as well.

Bogota comes with safety concerns and there is feuding within the national Olympic committee.

Also, while it has major stadiums, most of them are aging -- some dating back to the 1940s.

Lima has put on an upbeat show, but there are serious concerns about its financial ability to deliver the Games.

"Each of us want these G ames," Peterson said, "and we're doing everything ... full tilt to the end."

So. Ice cream, anyone?


Videos

Photos