The Olympic Games has the capacity to be a major catalyst for a host city, region, and country, and adapting sports facilities to suit the needs of the local community is just one way in which the legacy of the event lives on after the Closing Ceremony has ended. A shining example of this is Richmond Olympic Oval in Vancouver, which was recognised as the most successful sports facility 2011 during last week’s 22nd IAKS (International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities) Congress, when it was awarded the IOC/IAKS Gold Medal as well as the IPC/IAKS Distinction for Accessibility.
Judged by IAKS, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and the International Paralympic Committee (IPC) respectively, the IOC/IAKS Award is the only international architecture competition for sports and leisure facilities, while the IPC/IAKS Distinction for Accessibility is aimed at increasing the accessibility of all sports facilities and architectural projects.
And the effects of the Games have also created new opportunities within the city. Since Vancouver 2010, local interest in winter sports, such as curling, has risen significantly meaning that new facilities are being well used. The Vancouver Curling Club recently celebrated the opening of its new home, the Hillcrest Centre, which includes a library, a fitness centre, a gymnasium, a hockey arena, plus an indoor and outdoor swimming pool. Hillcrest was the Olympic curling venue in 2010 but was built with its post-Games legacy as a community centre and rink already in mind.
In addition to the local sporting benefits created by the Games, reports have revealed that hosting the event can provide a significant boost to the local economy. A study by the University of British Columbia, as part of the IOC’s Olympic Games Impact (OGI) programme, measuring the impact of the 2010 Winter Olympics found that the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games played a key role in attracting new businesses, creating jobs and encouraging an increase in visitor spending.
Other notable outcomes included the development of sport and culture across Canada, the inclusion and participation of Aboriginal groups and minorities and a heightened recognition of persons with disabilities.
Canadian Olympic Committee President Marcel Aubut explained: “This study confirms what we all saw during the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The sense of pride that swept up our nation was a turning point in our nation’s history. The Games injected millions into the local economy and great strides have been made in making these events more environmentally sound.”
The report is the third in a series of four of the Olympic Games Impact reports required by the International Olympic Committee. The UBC studies are designed to measure the overall impact of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games and use 126 indicators to assess the social, economic and environmental impacts of the Olympics on Vancouver, Whistler, British Columbia and Canada.