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Vancouver-Whistler bid committee finds encouraging signs in Norway

Bad news for the 2008 Toronto Olympic bid may be good news for the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic Bid.

Bad news for the 2008 Toronto Olympic bid may be good news for the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Olympic Bid.

While Toronto, Paris and Beijing were given a strong recommendation by an International Olympic Committee technical committee that evaluates each bid based on a set of criteria, Beijing received an even stronger recommendation from Australia’s Kevan Gosper, the current IOC vice president: "Here we have a huge country which has never had the Games. This could be an event which encourages an even greater degree of openness."

With Beijing appearing to be the favourite with less than two months to go before the International Olympic Committee makes its final decision on the host city for the 2008 Games, the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 bid is looking better than ever.

Although there is nothing in the IOC’s constitution forbidding it, it is rare for a country to be awarded back-to-back Olympics.

If the Toronto bid fails, the Vancouver bid committee is ready to hit the ground running on a campaign that will eventually wrap up with a decision in July, 2003.

That’s not the only good news that the Vancouver-Whistler bid has received in the last week. Members of the bid committee – including Whistler Mayor Hugh O’Reilly and Councillor Kristi Wells – returned last week from a fact-finding tour of Lausanne, Switzerland and Lillehammer, Norway, confident that Olympic legacies are long-term.

"When I look at the facilities we have already in Whistler, compared to the starting place for Lillehammer, I am not only encouraged at our potential for holding the Olympics but also at what we can learn from Lillehammer in terms of after-use, financing for the short and long term and legacies to the community," said O’Reilly.

The first stop for the delegation was an Olympic Games architecture conference organized by the IOC and the Union of International Architects in Lausanne. Representatives from over 30 countries attended the conference, entitled The Future of Host Cities, Including Lessons from the Sydney Olympics. Participants watched presentations from leading architects, design experts and Olympic and post-Olympic venue operators.

The tour of Lillehammer, a city of 25,000 people, was also beneficial said Vancouver Mayor Phillip Owen, who accompanied the delegation to Europe. "This was a region of Norway that was suffering from an economic slowdown in the 1970s and early 1980s. We were impressed with how the small community of Lillehammer took it upon itself to use its Olympic Bid, and ultimately the Winter Olympics, to not only put on a great event but to turn the economy around so that today it benefits from increased tourism, economic activity and community legacies. The even greater opportunities for a city the size of Vancouver can easily be envisioned."

Lillehammer is recognized for not only staging an outstanding winter Olympics in 1994, but also for staging the first "green" Olympics. Sydney is credited by many with raising the standard for a green, sustainable Olympic Games.

The European delegation also included Vancouver-Whister Bid CEO Don Calder, Bid Chair Marion Lay, Bid VP’s Linda Olgov and Terry Wright, and Whistler bid development manager Jan Jansen.