2010 officials travel to Italy to exchange ideas on sustainability 

Sustainability includes sustaining sliding centre and Nordic centre after Games

Top officials working with the Vancouver 2010 Transition Team will head to Turin, Italy next week to share and gain information on hosting a hallmark event in a sustainable way.

"The conference is trying to bring together people to explore where they are in the state of the art of protection of environment and promotion of sustainable development through the Olympic movement," said Terry Wright, vice president of development for the 2010 bid committee and on contract to the Vancouver 2010 Transition Team.

"So it is not just on the Games. There will be discussions of other sporting events, what national Olympic committees are doing, what the IOC is doing itself and what other (non governmental organizations) are doing."

In recent years the International Olympic Committee has expanded the pillars of the organization to include the environment as well as sport and culture.

This conference is part of that movement.

Wright will be giving a presentation along with Ken Baker, director of sustainability for the 2010 bid, on the work done during the bid phase on the environment and social and economic sustainability.

While there are still challenges in environmental sustainability it is much further along in the mainstream of thinking and planning than social and economic sustainability.

All three were tackled head on as the Vancouver 2010 team moved through the bid phase, said Wright.

"I think where we still probably shine is that we tried to look at all three dimensions in as holistic a way as we could," he said.

"But frankly, is still an evolving process and it is not something that anyone has mastered and we certainly didn’t master it.

"At least we made a good attempt at it and that is partly what our message to the conference will be: that the environment is really important but you cannot lose sight of social impact issues and of trying to maximize the economic impact."

Wright will also be exploring the importance of sustaining the sport after the Games are over.

Whistler will have two new facilities, which must be sustainable, if the sports they support are to reach new heights in Canada. The Sliding Centre on Blackcomb will host bobsled, luge and skeleton events and the Nordic Centre in the Callaghan will be home to an international cross country venue.

"If we can sustain the (Sliding Centre) economically then that makes a huge difference in how we can sustain the sport," said Wright.

"One of the things we know about the Callaghan from our due diligence is that it has to be – like all of our facilities – a long term legacy community benefit with a strong recreational commercial component to complement the very challenging competitive courses.

"If it doesn’t it will not do well financially, and if it doesn’t do well financially then it compromises the ability of the sport to continue to use it.

"It is the whole thing of trying to balance and that is one of the challenges we have in the world in general and the organizing committee has in specific."

Meanwhile the search for a new CEO for the organizing committee continues.

This week the Vancouver Sun reported that John Furlong has given up his position with the Arbutus Club so that he can pursue the CEO position. He continues his work for the 2010 Transition Team as well and, said spokesman Sam Corea, he fully supports the process to find a CEO.

Overseas, organizers of the 2004 Summer Games in Athens are proposing that the Olympic flame begin its journey on March 25, which is Greek Independence Day. Under the Julian calendar it is also the day the first modern Olympiad was opened in Athens in 1896.

Following it’s traditional lighting at Ancient Olympia, birthplace of the Games, the torch will pass through all former summer Olympic sites – from Berlin, where the torch relay was first introduced, to Sydney, host of the 2000 Games.

From there it will begin its international journey which will include a stop in Montreal June 20 and groundbreaking visits to South America and Africa.

More than 3,600 torchbearers will carry the flame on its global journey for 78 days outside Greece. It will cover a total of 78,000 kilometres.

It will also travel by air and sea, as well as by car, bicycle, motorcycle and wheelchair.

This epic trip in 2004 could be the last one as the IOC Commission presented some 100 recommendations in June to contain the costs of organizing Olympic Games, including limiting the torch relay to the host country.

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