IOCÕs Rogge impressed by Whistler venues 

International Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge won the heart of Whistler this week when he pulled a rather worn envelope out of his pocket.


"For 19 months I have been carrying an envelope in my jacket," he told hundreds packed into a Whistler Chamber of Commerce lunch in his honour Wednesday.

"So let me do what I could not do on July 2 nd , 2003. Let me say the International Olympic Committee has the honour to award the organization of the 2010 Games to Whistler."

To whoops of delight, wolf whistles, and sustained applause he held aloft the very paper he read from in Prague on July 2, 2003 to tell the world that Vancouver and Whistler would be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics.

He said the IOC was confident in CanadaÕs ability to host the Games and that he was impressed with what he had seen as he toured the Whistler venue sites by helicopter.

But he warned that the whole country must come out to support the Games if they are to reach their full potential. That includes spending more money on athletes so that Canada can be well represented on the podiums.

"We need your athletes to be the best ones," he said, adding that is why the IOC is paying particular attention to the recently launched Own the Podium program which aims to fund sport more fully,

"I had the privilege to speak to your Prime Minister, Mr. Martin, in Ottawa and he pledged support for these Olympic Games," Rogge told the rapt audience.

He also commented on the commitment by the Vancouver Organizing Committees and the municipality of Whistler to sustainability.

"The Olympic Games are also the place where we have to take care of the environment and there is no better place than Whistler," said Rogge.

"We are very stringent on environmental (issues) and I am so glad that the care (of) the environment andÉ sustainability are so strong here in Whistler. It will reflect on the whole Olympic Games."

The president, a former orthopedic surgeon and Olympic yachtsman, toured the Whistler venue sites by helicopter as he flew up from Vancouver Wednesday

"This is the place for snow," he said. "It is a beautiful place and I think this will be the vibrant heart of the alpine disciplines."

John Furlong, CEO of the organizing committee, said Rogge was pleased with what he had seen so far.

"He has been very positive about where we are in our planning," said Furlong. "It feels good but I donÕt think it is anything for us to get too carried away about in terms of where we are."

And he said Rogge liked what he saw of Sea to Sky country.

"(Rogge) was quite stunned by the riveting geography that we have," said Furlong. "It is the first time he has seen it."

The CEO also confirmed that it is likely the ski jump facilities in the Callaghan Valley will be temporary.

"This is a complicated problem," said Furlong, adding that the organizing committee had to do what was best for the Games and sport in the long term.

ThatÕs a position supported by the IOC said Furlong.

"The guidelines about being responsible comes from the IOC," he said.

Rogge also took a good look at the Sea to Sky Highway as he flew around.

"We flew over the road and we saw a lot of work," he said.

"ÉI think there is major progress being done and the enlargement of the road is definitely a great legacy for both Vancouver and Whistler."

Whistler Mayor Hugh OÕReilly said the IOC presidentÕs visit was about celebrating some successes.

"It went exceptionally well," he said.

"Over all it was a successful day. Everyone walked away feeling we were doing OK, we can do more, but letÕs celebrate some successes."


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