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Olympic broadcasters thrilled with Whistler venues

VANOC to host June community information forum

Olympic broadcasters will have a “permanent” home in Whistler for the 2010 Winter Olympic and Parlaympic Games.

It’s the first time that’s happened and it’s likely to mean a significant number of the 85 accredited broadcasters will set up some type of base at the Whistler Broadcast Centre (WBC) in the Telus Conference Centre.

“I think Whistler will be quite special,” said Nancy Lee, chief operating officer of the Olympic Broadcasting Services Vancouver (OBSV).

The OBSV is an IOC company and is the on-site host broadcaster. It is responsible for producing and transmitting the unbiased live radio and television coverage of the Vancouver 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. OBSV will also provide broadcasters with various unilateral facilities and services at all the venues and the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), the home of the broadcast operation in Vancouver, and at the WBC.

Accredited media take their feeds from the OBSV and add their own commentary. Feeds are booked more than a year in advance.

Lee pointed to how close the Whistler venues were to each other, the fact that there was a dedicated media centre, and the natural beauty of the region as top reasons why broadcasters will want to be here.

“There are great visuals here,” she said this week during a media briefing organized by the Resort Municipality of Whistler.

Of course it won’t be just the accredited media who will flock to the resort during the Games. There will be thousands of unaccredited media too, and all that coverage is great news for Whistler. Details on how unaccredited media will be looked after are still being worked out said Jim Godfrey, the RMOW’s 2010 Games office executive director.

“…But they are going to be a group that we want to pay attention to,” he said.

At Games time the OBSV will employ 2,200 people. It is already looking for Whistler residents to work for them in various capacities for anywhere from three months to three weeks.

Lee said many retirees in the community would be perfect; as they know their way around, have lots of local knowledge, and a “bed to sleep in.”

The organization is also talking with local colleges and universities as it launches its well-known legacy program to train broadcast journalists. For the 2010 Games, about 600 post-secondary students will be taken on for training and close to 350 will be kept on as staff.

Whistler is also negotiating for a hard legacy in the form of new power sources for the village. Broadcasters will need access to large power sources currently not available unless cables are laid along pavement, which can be problematic when it comes to snow clearing.

As the Games get closer planners are getting down to the nitty gritty on the operational side.

The RMOW is getting ready to release more information in June as part of its Master Plan. One of the topics within the plan is the overall Look of the Games, said Godfrey.

“You don’t throw a party and not dress-up for it,” he said.

Discussions are underway with officials at all the host venue sites so that there is continuity in look from the time visitors arrive at Vancouver International Airport until they reach Whistler, he said.

While the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games is responsible for how things look inside the venues the RMOW plans to use banners and other signage to keep the festive feeling going from venue to venue and throughout the village and the Celebration Site Program.

Godfrey who has seen VANOC’s Look of the Games presentation described it as “phenomenal”. However, he declined to give any details, adding that it will likely be revealed this fall.

VANOC will also be hosting a community information event June 17 at Millennium Place as part of its just announced Game Plan 2008. The time has yet to be announced.

It’s hoped that the meetings will let residents learn more about the day-to-day operations of the Games and what they might experience if they live and work in a Games-venue neighbourhood.