Head of Lillehammer Olympics to lead evaluation team to Whistler 

The president of the Lillehammer Olympic Organizing Committee will head up the evaluating team due to visit Whistler and Vancouver this February to assess the B.C. bid to host the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Lillehammer hosted the 1994 Winter Games, which were generally considered a great success.

The evaluation commission is composed of external experts and representatives of the International Olympic Committee, the National Olympic Committees, International Federations and athletes tasked with conducting an on-ground analysis of the four candidate cities.

The short-listed cities are Vancouver, Salzburg (AUT), Bern (SUI), and Pyeongchang (KOR).

The president of the IOC, Jacques Rogge will decide the composition of the team, in the next few weeks.

Delegates from the four candidate cities have just returned to their home countries from Lausanne following an intensive week of seminars hosted by the IOC.

The meetings were designed to help candidates by providing them with information as they prepare their bid books. The bid books must be handed over in January 2003.

The meetings covered themes such as Olympism and culture, finance, technology, sports, venues, accommodations, security, transport, communication and media services, marketing and legal aspects.

During the meetings the Province newspaper reported the IOC did not expect a four-lane highway to be built between Vancouver and Whistler.

The IOC made it clear they were interested in road improvements which work for the community and the B.C. government for the long run.

Vancouver 2010 sent 12 people to Lausanne. Each candidate city is also allowed to send six delegates to Mexico City in November for the IOC Congress.

Bid cities can also send representatives to the Asian Games and can attend the congresses of international sports federations, if asked.

At all these meetings representatives can talk about their plans and hand out information but they cannot set up display booths.

On Wednesday Premier Gordon Campbell reiterated his belief that hosting the Games would bring enormous economic benefits to the province.

He predicted there could be $2.5 billion of additional economic activity, hundreds and thousands of new jobs and huge opportunities for tourism throughout the province.

Campbell said he views the Olympics as an opportunity to create the safety improvements long needed on the Sea to Sky Highway.

The IOC will choose the host city for the 2010 Winter games in Prague in July 2003.

Meanwhile the Desert News of Utah reports that despite a nearly flawless Olympic gala, taxable sales in the state for the first quarter of 2002 languished at $7.8 billion US, a mere 0.6 per cent gain over last year's first quarter.

In Salt Lake County, where the heart of February's celebrations were held, a 1.5 per cent decrease in overall sales occurred.

In addition, Olympic hype scared many people away from the mountains, with ski resorts reporting an 8.5 per cent drop in taxable sales over the previous winter.

The decline reported the Desert News was due to a soft economy and a poor business climate. Experts the paper talked to said things could have been worse if not for the Olympics.

Shortly after the Games ended, the Downtown Alliance conducted an informal survey of 199 businesses, finding that 54 per cent reported some level of increased sales during the Games. Of those, 14 per cent had at least a 100 per cent increase in sales.

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