Whistler group tours European Olympic facilities 

Lillehammer venues and IOC headquarters

Learning from others’ experiences was the main goal of a group funded by the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Bid Corporation that has just completed a fact-finding tour of Olympic-related sites in Norway and Switzerland.

The group included Whistler and Vancouver mayors Hugh O’Reilly and Phillip Owen, the bid corporation’s chief executive officer Don Calder and marketing executive director Linda Oglov, Whistler councillor Kristi Wells, Terry Wright the general manager for bid development, and Jan Jansen from the resort municipality. Marion Lay, bid corporation chair, also attended the latter part of the tour.

Among the sites visited over the past 10 days have been Olympic venues used for the 1994 Winter Games in Lillehammer, and the Olympic library and museum at the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The group also attended a conference in Lausanne entitled The Future of Host Cities, including Lessons from the Sydney Olympics, which is aimed at any country planning to host a major international event. The symposium is being run by the IOC and the International Union of Architects.

Sam Corea, the corporation’s media relations manager, says delegates have gained an in-depth understanding of the practicalities behind running an event.

"The conference covered the fundamentals of hosting an Olympics and the infrastructure that’s required," he explains. "Visiting Norway will have been especially of interest because it had its Olympic venues spread out in a way similar to how the Whistler-Vancouver bid will be."

Corea says Lillehammer is widely regarded as having provided both a successful winter Games and a subsequent legacy to its communities, which is a key goal of the Vancouver-Whistler bid.

"The group will be visiting the ice hockey hall, the bob and luge course, the cross-country facilities and the ski jump, as well as the international broadcast centre left over from the games."

He says Lillehammer’s solution for managing transport needs between the venues will also be of high interest. Under the planned Vancouver-Whistler bid, the resort will host the alpine and freestyle skiing and snowboarding events, while the nordic, ski jumping, luge and bobsleigh events will be in the Whistler area.

Coreo says the bid corporation is planning other fact-finding missions, including going to Salt Lake in the lead-up to the 2002 winter games and visiting organisers of the Turin 2006 Olympics, which he says has a similar city/resort mix as the B.C. bid. The current tour cost around $25,000 and is being paid out of the bid corporation coffers, he adds.

Although there are no official bids for the 2010 Winter Olympics at this time, other cities that have expressed an interest in bidding include Helsinki, Finland; Jaca, Spain; Zurich and Bern-Montreux, Switzerland; Muju, South Korea; and Sarajevo, Bosnia. The IOC will select a host for the 2010 Games in mid-2003.

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