Two-year countdown will focus on volunteer recruitment 

Vanoc Board discusses celebration plans and more

Olympic officials are making volunteers the focus of the two-year countdown to the Games, which starts Feb.12.

“What better way that on the countdown day at the two year milestone to launch what will likely be one of our biggest activities to engage the public, and that is to volunteer,” said Renee Smith-Valade, manager of communications for the Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Games (VANOC).

As well, there will be “small spontaneous celebrations” in Vancouver as part of the countdown. The signature event in the city is a musical celebration at the Orpheum on Feb 12. Tickets are $59 to $69.

“It is a virtual celebration, if you will,” she said. “So there will be some small, but very festive activities here in the city and up in Whistler.”

There will, of course, be cake in the resort to celebrate, said Maureen Douglas, VANOC’s director of community relations.

“For us it’s not just marking the day it is activating a number of key initiatives that go hand and hand with the Games, like the volunteering and the Cultural Olympiad,” she said.

There will be a stage set up in Village Square Feb. 12 with performances by SWARM, Hey Ocean, Wil Mimnaugh and many others. A long lineup of events associated with the Whistler Celebration 2010 will get underway at the end of January.

The infamous street hockey tournament will also take place, though its been moved to late February-early March to allow more locals to take part.

The Cultural Olympiad will run from Feb.1 to Mar. 21, which will be the last day of the Paralympics in 2010.

Altogether the celebration will include more than 300 performances and 10 exhibitions.

VANOC said screening of the volunteer applicants will begin by security forces this fall. In all 25,000 volunteers will be needed.

Already volunteer organizations, multicultural groups, aboriginal groups, educational institutions, seniors, the business community and more have been approached as the search for just the right volunteer heats up.

VANOC is also finalizing the volunteer web portal that includes information about the Games.

The information came out following VANOC’s January Board meeting in Vancouver.

The board also heard that Games sponsorship was now at $691 million, or at 90.5 per cent of the overall $760 million target.

first version of the long-awaited transportation plans should be out in the latter part of this year.

The Board also discussed the plight of Canada’s female ski jumpers, who will not be competing at the Games in 2010 under current International Olympic Committee regulations.

Jack Poole, Vanoc’s chairman, reiterated that the organizing committee could do nothing to alter that fact.

“The IOC have pointed out to us in a very friendly and polite way that this is not our fight,” he said.

“We have our hands full preparing for the Games and the responsibility as to which athletes participate is theirs and theirs alone, so we have no role, no influence, no jurisdiction whatsoever.

We have been very clear that if the IOC decides to include this new sport then we would accommodate it.”

>Meanwhile the RCMP Integrated Security Unit, which will oversee the security for the Games, announced that it is looking for perimeter intrusion detection services for the venues.

It has also been reported that the ISU has finalized its new budget for the Games. The original bid budget of $175 million has long been thought to be too small.

Security costs will be shared between the federal government and BC.

John Furlong, Vanoc’s CEO, said he did not know what the new budget was.

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