Vancouver 2010 Steps Into The Spotlight
At the end of its seventh visit to Vancouver, the International Olympic Committee (IOC)’s Coordination Commission confirmed that the Vancouver 2010 Organising Committee (VANOC) continues to be on the right track to host top quality Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games in February 2010. The Commission was particularly pleased to see that VANOC’s participation in the IOC’s Beijing 2008 Observer’s Programme had had a positive impact on its planning and that the Games legacy remains a top priority for the next Olympic Games organisers.
Commenting on the visit, IOC Coordination Commission Chairman René Fasel said, “With the Beijing Games now over, it is Vancouver 2010’s turn to step into the spotlight and I am confident that Vancouver 2010 can also raise the bar for the Olympic Winter Games. Our Canadian friends learned many important lessons during their stay in Beijing as part of the IOC’s Observer’s Programme, and this can be seen in their planning, which is being fine-tuned as VANOC moves into its operational phase.”
He added, “While John Furlong and his team are in the process of finalising a number of key Games-time plans, such as transport, volunteers and staffing, which is normal for an Organising Committee at this stage, we feel that if they can quickly finish them over the coming few months, then they will be in a very good position going into their operational phase at the end of next year. It’s crucial though that no time is lost, because the Games are an immoveable deadline and the margin for error is greatly reduced as we get into the final year of preparations.”
During its visit, the Commission had the opportunity to review the venues in the Whistler area, which will host the skiing and sliding sports as well as the athletes’ village.
Fasel commented, “The competition venues in Whistler are truly spectacular and will provide a fantastic back drop for the athletes, as they strive for sporting excellence. It is particularly reassuring to see that they are all largely complete and are already being used. Indeed, as VANOC starts to test them, and all of its other Games-time arenas, with its 17 up-coming sport events, it will be a fantastic opportunity for the athletes to get a feel for what awaits them in 2010 and for the public to experience many sports and disciplines that may not be familiar to them.”
The Olympic Games are more than just 16 days of sporting competition, and this was underlined by two announcements made during the visit that will undoubtedly produce positive legacies from the Vancouver Games. On Tuesday 21 October, the Province of British Columbia and VANOC announced an initiative to use temporary housing from the Whistler athletes’ village to help combat homelessness across British Columbia. Additionally, the IOC and VANOC, in close partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), announced the dates of next year’s 8th World Conference on Sport and the Environment, which will be held in Vancouver from 29 to 31 March 2009.
Speaking about the importance of legacy, Fasel said, “The International Olympic Committee has long recognised the importance of planning for the post-Olympic legacy in host regions and that it is of great importance that organisers are sensitive to the social impact of the Olympic Games, and plan carefully to ensure that all sections of the community benefit from the Games legacy. This is particularly apparent here in Vancouver, where VANOC has created exceptionally strong partnerships with its local government partners and the Four Host First Nations (FHFNs), whose traditional lands will welcome the Games in 2010.”
“As we expected, the pace has increased after the Beijing Games and it requires our team to be able to respond quickly to change, particularly given the challenging economy,” said VANOC Chair Jack Poole. “In these circumstances the guidance and insights provided by the IOC are particularly valuable. We were proud this week to showcase to our partners and receive positive feedback on our sport venues and the legacies being created.”
“As always, our friends at the IOC ask great questions and stimulate important discussions. While this review has been extremely reassuring for our team, we must stay completely focused and not become complacent as we face the major operational challenges that lie ahead,” said VANOC CEO John Furlong.
During its meetings, the Commission also heard from VANOC about a number of other areas linked to Games organisation, such as sport, NOC services, technology, marketing, accommodation, transport and communications.