Vancouver 2010: Learning from the past, progressing confidently forward
After two days of meetings and visits by the IOC’s Coordination Commission, under the Chairmanship of IOC Member René Fasel, the Commission has successfully completed its 3rd visit to the Organising Committee for the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games (VANOC). The Commission, in addition to reviewing the substantial progress that VANOC and its partners have made since its last visit, was also pleased to see that the IOC’s programmes of knowledge transfer are slowly being taken onboard, as the local organisers continue to consolidate their planning for the Games.
Coordination Commission Chairman Fasel commented, “We are encouraged to see the progress that VANOC has made since the last full visit of the Commission in April 2005. They are clearly meeting their goal of preparations that are on time, particularly in critical areas such as venue construction and building a strong and experienced team. We are delighted that the partners of the Organising Committee continue to work closely together towards Vancouver 2010’s ultimate goal of putting on Canada’s Games that will inspire their nation and promote the Olympic spirit both within Canada and world wide. Indeed, this appears to already be well underway, as VANOC presented to us some market research that shows a significant increase in the positive impression that Canadians have of the Vancouver Games.” Drawing on an ice hockey analogy Fasel continued, “It’s the end of the first period in the match but the team looks as if it has gelled well, ahead of the important second period of the Game.”
Chairman Fasel added, “It is also particularly encouraging to see how VANOC and its partners are taking on board the lessons that they have learned through the IOC’s knowledge transfer programme and through the time that the VANOC staff and partners spent in Turin, as either secondees or with the IOC’s Observer Programme. These IOC initiatives are encouraging VANOC and its partners to identify ways to improve their planning processes and operations for the Games in ways that will ultimately help Vancouver to host top quality Games and improve upon the successes of previous editions.”
The meetings between the IOC and VANOC covered many areas of Games preparations, such as VANOC’s structure, venue planning and construction, sport, legacy, communications, medals plaza and the Paralympic Games. The Commission also held working groups that looked at the service levels that different Olympic Games client groups can expect during the Games in Vancouver. These groups included spectators, sponsors, the media, National Olympic Committees and the International Federations. One important subject that was raised by the IOC in these meetings was the desire to accommodate additional media and National Olympic Committee members in Whistler and the surrounding area. VANOC is pursuing a number of options in this regard and the Commission has asked VANOC to further explore their options and to come back to them with propositions on this matter.
The Commission toured three major competition venues: the Whistler Sliding Centre, the Alpine Skiing venue and the Nordic Centre in the Callaghan Valley. The Commission was also happy to learn that an agreement had been reached between the International Ice Hockey Federation and VANOC following a lengthy process of negotiations concerning the size of the ice rinks to be used for ice hockey during the Games in 2010.
“We were impressed by the work that VANOC and its partners have carried out so far in their planning for the different stakeholders that will participate in the Games in 2010 and with its new management structure now in place, I’m sure that this customer and operational focus will continue to be developed and implemented producing great Games in Vancouver,” said Fasel. “Moreover, we are seeing that VANOC and its partners are integrating the important aspects of legacy and sustainability in its planning, such as the use of applied sustainability planning and design principles in Vancouver’s Olympic venues and Olympic Villages and in the legacy that these facilities will leave not only to British Columbians but to all Canadians once the Games are over,” he added.
“This first visit by the IOC Coordination Commission post-Torino 2006 was a chance to work collaboratively with the Commission members on the day to day challenges of staging the Games,” said John Furlong, VANOC Chief Executive Officer. “We reported on our many successes and significant progress to date, including our venue construction program and the strong sense of partnership that our team is building. We also identified key areas where we will continue to work to find creative and innovative solutions. It is an immense undertaking to stage the Games – everyday we look for ways to ensure every Games participant and spectator has the best possible experience in 2010. We are appreciative of the IOC’s advice, assistance and ongoing strong support as we move forward.” The Commission congratulated VANOC on limiting construction cost increases to 23% when costs in the marketplace have risen by more than 50% in the same period.
The IOC, as the guardian of the Olympic Games, will continue to assist and monitor the work of Vancouver 2010 through the work of the Coordination Commission. The Commission’s next full visit to Vancouver will be in 2007. The Commission’s full meetings in Vancouver are supplemented by the regular visits of smaller IOC teams involving the Commission Chairman, selected members of the Commission and members of the IOC administration; in addition, this year, there will be a debriefing of the Torino 2006 Games held in Vancouver from 10 to 15 July.
¹ The International Olympic Committee runs a full programme of knowledge transfer for candidate host cities and future Olympic Games Organising Committees (OCOGs) through its Olympic Games Knowledge Management (OGKM) section. This knowledge transfer takes several forms but most notably through Transfer of Knowledge seminars, which allow the cities to learn from experts in different Games management fields through seminars lasting several days; the IOC’s Observer Programme, where representatives of the cities participate in an observation programme covering specific areas during actual Olympic Games; Technical Manuals and online learning, which allow the cities to gain in-depth knowledge of a Games management field; and the Secondee Programme, which offers the possibility to staff of future Host Cities to work during an actual Olympic Games, thus gaining first-hand knowledge of what it takes to organise the Olympic Games.