Quest for 2010 Olympics is ‘Canada’s bid’ 

John Furlong brought a copy of the Vancouver 2010 Bid Corporation’s mini-bid book to Whistler Monday and held the document up for Whistler councillors and members of the public to see.

But he declined to open it.

"There have been a lot of questions from the media about releasing this publicly," Furlong, the president and chief operation officer of the bid corporation said.

"We liken this to the head coach of a football team showing his playbook to the competition."

Furlong said at some point the document will be open to the public, but for the time being the mini-bid book, which was submitted to the International Olympic Committee last week, remains confidential.

"Whatever the big-ticket items in the document are they need to be protected, so they aren’t neutralized (by other cities competing for the 2010 Games)," he said.

Furlong, who was in Whistler to update council on the status of the bid since February’s Games in Salt Lake City, noted there have been suggestions the public should have been apprised of the mini-bid book’s contents.

"We’ve made hundreds of presentations over the last few years," he said. "Most everything in the document has been made public at some time."

Then, opening the cover a crack, Furlong said: "There’s a powerful vision at the front of the document, explaining this is Canada’s bid."

The Vancouver mini-bid book was one of eight the IOC received last week. Sarajevo, (Bosnia and Herzegovina), Jaca (Spain), Salzburg (Austria), Pyeongchang (Korea), Harbin (People's Republic of China), Bern (Switzerland), and Andorra La Vella (Andorra) are also bidding to host the 2010 Winter Olympics.

The mini-bid books are essentially answers to a questionnaire from the IOC providing information on a variety of things, including sports and telecommunications infrastructure, transportation and accommodation facilities, environmental conditions and finances.

The mini-bid books will be studied by a working group of IOC administrators who will assess the applications against a set of 11 criteria. The findings will be presented to the IOC executive board in Lausanne, Switzerland Aug. 28-29 and a short list of candidate cities will be released at that time.

Furlong said it’s anybody’s guess what will be needed to make the short list, but the rumour is between two and five cities will be chosen.

"We’re very optimistic that we’re going to make the cut," he told council.

A cheque for $100,000 US was included with the mini-bid book, and another cheque for $500,000 US must accompany the final bid book submission, assuming Vancouver makes the short list. Furlong said the bid corporation had anticipated a fee would be required but didn’t expect it would be as much as $500,000 US.

"We have now to find those dollars, in our current budget or by raising the money," he said.

Work will continue on the final bid book, which is expected to be a 600-800 page document. Furlong expects it will be completed by September, but it will also take some time to print. Every statement in the final bid book must be backed up with facts.

"We are determined to produce a technically unassailable bid," Furlong said.

The final bid book must be submitted to the IOC by January 2003. In July 2003 the IOC will select a host city for the 2010 Games.

In the meantime, Furlong said, the bid corporation must start marketing the bid to the world.

"We have to be the lead bid in the winter sports community, which includes seven sport organizations," Furlong said.

"We have to ensure a good buzz about the bid around the world, in government, in media. Business must embrace it. The world must feel excited about Vancouver-Whistler."

Furlong, who was in Halifax for a world tourism conference last week, said there is excitement in eastern Canada about the bid.

"One of the objectives we had was to unite the country behind the bid," he added. "Every corner of the country will be represented on the (bid) team."

On the international front, Furlong said IOC members have heard of Whistler, although some people aren’t yet sure what the Vancouver-Whistler bid is all about.

"But we haven’t had one thing said to us, we haven’t heard anything while travelling that would give us a lump in our throat," Furlong said.

He concluded by saying that the Lillehammer Olympics of 1994 still hold a special place in people’s hearts, in part because of the environmental initiatives launched at those Games. The IOC is "desperate" to see a sustainable Games, Furlong said, and Whistler’s sustainability initiative is what they are looking for.

"You’ve taught us a lot," he said.

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