Interest in 2010 Olympics starts to build 

IOC says future Games will be more compact

By Clare Ogilvie

Visitors are still flocking to the Whistler 2010 Winter Games Information Centre.

In fact this month saw the 20,010th visitor since Vancouver and the resort were awarded the Games July 2. Since the centre opened in 2002 more than 72,000 people have visited the centre.

"People want to know where events will be held," said Maureen Douglas of the 2010 Transition team.

"We get questions about when tickets will be available and about the mascot."

The high level of interest is good news said Ted Nebbeling MLA for West Vancouver-Garibaldi.

"It shows there is tremendous public interest in the Olympics and the Paralympic Games.

"The excitement of Canada’s 2010 victory on July 2 continues, even though there are more than 2,200 days until the opening ceremony."

There are also people coming in and offering support and letters of support coming from other communities around B.C.

And while Douglas welcomes the support she said there is a fine balance between keeping people enthusiastic today and making sure there will still be enthusiasm around in 2010.

Fewer fans and media at future Games

Fewer people, more compact stadiums and smaller athlete entourages will be the rule next year in Athens and in future Olympic Games.

That’s the view of IOC president Jacques Rogge, which he expressed at a series of meetings earlier this month in Turin, Italy.

The hope is that future Olympic Games will leave less of a mark on host cities and countries. That thinking is in line with the movement’s push toward a more sustainable Games.

In Sydney 9.5 million tickets were sold, whereas in Athens about 5.3 million tickets are expected to be available. Already more than 1.67 million tickets have been sold. Another 2.3 million tickets have been reserved for Olympic sponsors and IOC officials.

The down-sizing effort began after the 2000 Sydney Games when officials noticed things were getting too big to control. The effort will also allow smaller cities to host the Games, letting the IOC bring them to South America and possibly Africa.

Path to Olympic spots start now

Anyone interested in one of the 25,000 to 30,000 volunteer positions at the 2010 Games need to start getting their volunteer resumes in shape now.

About 50,000 would-be Olympic volunteers from 65 countries have already submitted their names to the organization in charge of the Games in Whistler and Vancouver. And that number might grow to 100,000 in the next seven years.

The people who will eventually be selected will have very specific skills and it’s likely those chosen will have extensive volunteer experience and be high-energy and enthusiastic.

It is estimated that about 6.5 million Canadians do some kind of volunteer work.

Richmond gets land

The federal government announced recently that it will transfer 55 hectares of land to the City of Richmond. The site will be developed in a partnership between the city and the Musqueam First Nations band. The development will include a facility to house the broadcast centre for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.

Budding Olympic athletes get federal money

The federal government had announced $7.4 million for budding Olympic and Paralympic athletes for the 2008 Beijing and Vancouver 2010 Games.

The money was announced earlier this month by Paul DeVillers, secretary for amateur sport. The program is called LaReleve, or relief, in the sense of a relief pitcher coming in from the bullpen, said DeVillers.

The money will go to athletes in 27 summer Olympic sports, 11 winter sports and 10 Paralympic sports. It will send more athletes to competitions and pay for things like coaches and physiotherapists.

It’s part of a $25 million, five-year funding program for high-performance athletes announced in the last federal budget.

Sport Canada surveyed Canadian athletic performances and selected areas where Canada has potential medal success and funds were allocated on that basis.

For example, next year Olympic rowing athletes will get $180,000 with another $200,000 earmarked for the following year.

In winter sports, skaters will get $195,000 next year and $200,000 the year after.

Among Paralympic sports wheelchair basketball, athletics, swimming, alpine and wheelchair rugby will each get $21,000 next year and the year after.

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