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Vancouver 2010: benefits for the region, social cohesion and sport

2010 / International Olympic Committee (IOC)/ HUET, John | A Canadian young fan supporting his national team during the Ice Hockey final event at the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010.
29 Jan 2020
Vancouver 2010 Legacy
The main objectives of the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 were to boost education, promote lasting social inclusion, sustainability and health, and foster sports development. All of these legacies continue to benefit communities both regionally and nationally.

Education and health

The direct involvement of local communities in Games-related social and educational programmes conducted across British Columbia constitutes one of the most important legacies of the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010.

Between 2000 and 2010, over 4,000 organisations and groups across British Columbia joined the effort to create a variety of legacies leading up to 2010 and beyond. As a result, 31 new programmes were initiated, and many more were supported, to generate measurable social change in the areas of sport, healthy living, literacy, arts, accessibility and social inclusion. The work was led by 2010 Legacies Now, a non-for-profit organisation set up to leverage the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 to create lasting social and economic change.
For example, between 2011 and 2017, half a million students from 1,400 schools in every district of British Columbia participated in the “Action Schools! BC” initiative. Through this initiative, teachers were trained to incorporate daily physical activity and healthy eating lessons into schools.

Other programmes included the Aboriginal Youth Sport Legacy Fund, the BC Sport Participation Programme, Sport Hosting, Accessible Tourism, Game Plan BC, Parents as Literacy Supporters and SportFit.

Between 2000 and 2010, 2 million people benefited from the programmes. After the Games, many of the programmes were transferred to non-profits and provincial and local governments, and the majority continue to this day. In 2011, 2010 Legacies Now was re-branded as LIFT Philanthropy Partners – a national social impact organisation.

Indigenous culture and inclusion

Providing business opportunities for indigenous communities and promoting diversity, along with raising awareness and broadening understanding about indigenous cultural heritage during the Olympic Winter Games, were essential components of Vancouver 2010’s objectives.

The Four Host First Nations Society – a non-profit organisation that grouped together the Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh Nations, whose traditional territory was used during the Games – was set up after Vancouver was awarded the Olympic Winter Games 2010. It was the first organisation of its kind to be included in the decision-making related to the planning and hosting of the Olympic Games, laying the foundations for further partnerships of indigenous peoples both regionally and nationally.

Initiatives created to improve the lives of British Columbia’s indigenous people and their families continue to benefit these communities. For example, the Aboriginal Youth Sport Legacy Fund, administered by LIFT, awarded grants to amateur athletes of indigenous origin in their pursuit of sporting excellence from 2010 to 2013. The Fund also provided scholarships to post-secondary students and grants to community organisations to increase sporting and recreation opportunities for Aboriginal youth.

The Olympic Winter Games 2010 were a catalyst for change and demonstrated how the indigenous peoples could work with local, regional and national governments. After the Games, Canada signed the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, adopted in 2007. Although the Winter Olympics were not the only reason for this achievement, the Canadian Government highlighted the partnerships and inclusivity brought about by the Games. The Vancouver Olympics represented the first time in history that indigenous peoples from every part of the country had worked with governments and the private sector to host a major international event.

Education and literacy

Hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games provided a unique opportunity to help address low literacy levels in British Columbia.

Today, programmes designed to support literacy in the area continue to evolve and benefit from the foundations built in the lead-up to and during the Games.

In an effort to ensure that the community literacy work of 2010 Legacies Now continued, the non-profit helped to establish (and support during its first three years of existence) Decoda Literacy Solutions, a provincial organisation committed to developing strong individuals, families and communities by providing literacy resources and training.

Over the last decade, Decoda has supported children and families, young people, adults, senior citizens, and indigenous and immigrant populations through community-based literacy programmes and initiatives in more than 400 communities across British Columbia, benefiting 1.6 million people.

Sustainable infrastructure

All purpose-built venues for the Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 remain in use and provide the region with a variety of sporting, cultural and community activities. For example, the Richmond Olympic Oval has become a centre of excellence for sport, health and wellness, culture and entertainment, and is being used by the local community and high-performance athletes alike.

The Olympic Winter Games Vancouver 2010 broke new ground in terms of pursuing independent sustainability certification under the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System. The Vancouver 2010 venues and villages were recognised by the Canada Green Building Council and BC Hydro as the largest group of simultaneously constructed, low-environmental-impact facilities in North America. They consume less energy and water during the full lifecycle and required fewer construction materials, minimising waste, emissions and use of toxic materials.

Sporting excellence

Team Canada’s improved performance in the medal rankings at the Olympic Winter Games was the focus of the sporting excellence agenda in the lead-up to Vancouver 2010. As proof of this success, Team Canada won 29 medals at the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018, compared to only 17 at Salt Lake City 2002.

This achievement was a direct result of the activities of “Own the Podium” – a high-performance sports development organisation formed in 2004 to offer technical support to Canadian sports organisations in preparation for future Olympic Games. Own the Podium has since become a permanent entity and has been crucial in driving Canada’s elite sporting excellence.

Own the Podium has had a similar impact on summer sports: Canada won a total of 22 medals at the Olympic Games Rio 2016, compared to only 12 at the Olympic Games Athens 2004.


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