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Whistler Sport Legacies properties closing down

Olympic Park, sliding centre, athletes' village to close at end-of-day Monday, Mar 16
Whistler Sport Legacies' three venues, including Whistler Olympic Park, are closing on Monday, March 16 to avoid the potential spread of COVID-19. Photo by Justa Jeskova/Tourism Whistler

Whistler's three Olympic legacy venues are set to shut down at the end of the day on Monday, March 16.

Whistler Sport Legacies (WSL) announced in a release on Monday afternoon that the Whistler Sliding Centre, Whistler Olympic Park and Whistler Athletes' Centre will shut down to stem possible transmission of COVID-19.

The Olympic Park and sliding centre will finish their winter seasons early, and will potentially resume summer operations in late June if safe to do so. The athletes' centre, meanwhile, is suspending its operations until further notice.

"The health and well-being of guests, athletes, staff and community are always the organization's highest priority," the release stated.

WSL said it will refund any existing bookings at its facilities, while its guest services teams remain available to field further questions.

WSL president and CEO Roger Soane said its staff members will be taken care of for the weeks to come, but noted that they don't operate under uniform agreements.

"As we close down our operations and button them up, we will need some staff to come in and help us do that," he said. "The seasonal team was finishing at the end of March, so we will pay them out as usual, and a seasonal bonus. All the other employees that had a contract with us, we will pay until April 5."

Soane said WSL will discuss how it will proceed and keep its employees notified of any decisions.

WSL has a contingency fund and is backstopped by the Games Operating Trust, so while it's affected negatively by the closures, Soane said it will be able to weather the storm.

"Obviously you never want to dip into those types of things, but even though we're a small operation, losing the last couple weeks [of the season] runs into the hundreds of thousands of dollars for us," he said. "It's a big hit for us, but I know we're not the only ones.

"We will survive. I know that. And I worry about some of the smaller operations that don't have the luxury of a trust fund that's looking after them."

Events cancelled by the closure include the BCLA BC Provincial Luge Championships 2020 on March 18 and 19, the BCBSA BC Provincial Championships Bobsleigh & Skeleton 2020, and the Canadian Skeleton Championships on March 28.

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