Vancouver welcomes the world!
Taking inspiration from ‘sea to sky’, Vancouver’s Organizing Committee welcomes the world to the XXI Olympic Winter Games.
In the 1960s, when the idea to bid for the Winter Games was first proposed by a group of skiing enthusiasts the present day site of Whistler was similar to that of Squaw Valley – it was little more than a wilderness with plenty of potential. Even with potential, it was the more developed area of Banff in Alberta and not the British Columbia site that received the Canadian Olympic Association’s endorsement. Banff’s invitation to the IOC to entrust their Winter Games to a Canadian location was not chosen and so the bidders for both Canadian locations continued to dream.
Subsequent years saw the invitation to the IOC shift between Banff and Garibaldi then between Calgary and Vancouver, with Calgary finally being the first Canadian host city for the Winter Games in 1988. The dream, however, persisted in Vancouver and its neighbour to the north, the village of Whistler that had grown out of that wilderness which had once been referred to as Garibaldi. The quest to be selected as an Olympic host would continue.
On 2 July 2003 the quest came to an end and the dream began to unfold when the name Vancouver was announced as host for the XXI Olympic Winter Games in 2010.
The Vancouver Organizing Committee known as VANOC has worked to make the 2010 Games one that all Canadians can feel a part of. Alpine skiing, Nordic combined, cross country skiing, ski jumping, biathlon, luge, bobsled and skeleton will all be held in Whistler. Richmond will be home to speed skating and Cypress Mountain adjacent to West Vancouver will host freestyle skiing and snowboarding. All other competitions, along with the Opening and Closing ceremony will be held in the city of Vancouver itself.
It is people along with locations that will host the Games though. The Lil’wat, Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations are officially partnering with VANOC to share their culture, language, and history. It is planned for First Nations art to be displayed in competition venues and their dances and music are sure to be featured in the ceremonies and cultural festivities that will be a part of the Games. Already, the myths and legends of these Pacific Northwest First Nations have influenced design concepts for the official 2010 Olympic Winter Games mascots ‘Quatchi’ and ‘Miga’.
In the lead-up to the Games inspiration is also being drawn from farther afield, making the celebration a truly Canadian one. The Games emblem incorporates the Inuit’s directional guideposts, the inukshuk or “Ilanaaq” which is also the Inuktitut word for friend. The route of the torch relay brought this symbol of Olympic spirit quite literally to the four corners of Canada, travelling west to the Yukon’s Old Crow, north to Alert in Nunavut, east to Cape Spear and south to Ontario’s Point Peele. The world famous Niagara Falls, Anne of Green Gables House and the Bluenose featured alongside places such as Alberta’s Hoodoos, Old Quebec’s fortifications, an Igloo church, and the 1770 metre high Kootenay pass as the Olympic flame made its journey towards Vancouver where it will burn brightly throughout the Games.
On 12 February 2010 athletes from around the globe will gather in B.C. Place and the XXI Olympic Winter Games will officially be declared open. It is assured that like the motto for these Games, people in Vancouver and Whistler will be watching “with glowing hearts” alongside others from Canada and around the world “des plus brillants exploits” of the competing athletes.