Proponents of a Vancouver/Whistler bid for the 2010 Winter Olympics are heading off to Nagano, Japan for some first-hand Olympic experience and to talk with the heads of sports organizations about what a successful bid could mean to their sports.
Organizers of the bid will go armed with the results of a recent telephone survey showing strong support for the Games from Whistler residents.
A phone survey by Marktrend Research contacted 300 people between Jan. 6 and 11. The survey of 152 full-time Whistler residents, 118 part-time residents and 31 winter-only residents produced approvals ranging from the mid-60s to 81 per cent, depending on the question. Bruce MacMillan of Tourism Vancouver said an announcement about the survey results would be forthcoming, after the information has been analyzed.
"We want to assess where the community is going, what issues the Whistler community will have (if an Olympic bid is to go ahead)," MacMillan said.
Arthur Griffiths and MacMillan will be going to Nagano next week to meet with Japanese and International Olympic Committee officials to "source out our chances and see what Nagano is all about." MacMillan said Whistler will be represented in Nagano, as John Johnston of the Blackcomb Freestyle World Cup Society will be there, as well as national freestyle team coach Peter Judge, who lives in Whistler.
A meeting is scheduled for Feb. 23 to update all parties involved, after the delegation returns from Japan.
The group must formally notify the Canadian Olympic Association by March 6 if it intends to bid for the 2010 Games. Calgary and Quebec City are also expected to seek the Canadian nomination for the 2010 Olympics. The COA will decide by November which bid to support. That group will then spend the following three years attempting to win the IOC’s support.
The cost of winning COA approval has been estimated at $750,000. The cost of winning IOC approval has been pegged at $15 million.
Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly said Monday that despite the March 6 deadline, the group organizing the Vancouver/Whistler Olympic bid will probably spend the next 11 months getting answers and refining details of the bid.
"They’re looking now only to see if there are any show-stoppers, if there’s any reason why we shouldn’t do this," O’Reilly said. "It probably won’t be until November until we have a good idea of what the whole bid is all about."
O’Reilly said municipal staff are not really analyzing what an Olympic bid would mean to Whistler and the Olympics are not being incorporated into the 2002 visioning document, as that document only looks at the next five years.
"We’re not going to be as informed as we’d like (by March 6)," O’Reilly said, but added it’s important to keep options open.
"Communities will build momentum for it or build momentum against it," he said siting the example of Toronto’s bid for the 1996 Summer Olympics which was undermined by lack of support.
"Vancouver can’t do this without us," O’Reilly said. "But we don’t want a big piece of this, we just want a little piece."