Women in sport to be a central theme in 2010 bid 

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While there are more women at every level of sports, the men-only culture was slow to change.

In 1996, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) held their first World Conference on Women and Sport and the IOC adopted a set of resolutions to increase the visibility of women in sports at the national and international level. By Dec. 31 of 2000, the IOC called on every international sports federation, national Olympic committees, national sports federations to meet a goal of 10 per cent representation by women. At the second conference in March of 2000, the conference reaffirmed the goals and expanded expectations to 20 per cent.

"While 10 per cent or 20 per cent may seem like a low number for Canadians – we generally think of ourselves as quite liberal and quite progressive – when the resolution was announced in 1996, women only held 15 per cent of these positions," said Lay.

The numbers have increased dramatically since that point says Lay, and although there is still a lot of work to do, at this point Canada can be seen as a leader in promoting women in sport – win or lose, the 2010 bid could strengthen this position while building permanent sport legacies for B.C. and Canada.

Other topics covered at the fireside chat included the importance of bidding and Toronto’s 2008 bid.

"One of the pleas Istanbul (Turkey) made to the bid committee was to be short-listed because the bid itself is worth the effort," said Lay. "It increases tourism and your profile internationally, and creates more funding for sports."

While the Vancouver Whistler Bid Corporation was uncertain whether there would even be a 2010 bid if Toronto was successful in its bid to host the 2000 Summer Olympics, Lay believes that it’s possible that Canada could win and host both Games as the IOC membership restructures to include more athletes and delegates from international sports federations – politics could take back seat to sports considerations, and athletes could easily back both bids on their technical merits.

"The Toronto facilities will be incredible," said Lay. Most of the events are going to happen in one area, the transportation is good, the housing is good. Whistler has the number three men’s downhill in the world and we will have first class Nordic facilities in the Callaghan (Valley). In Vancouver, GM place is one of the top facilities of its kind in the world. Either bid would be hard for an athlete to turn down."

Although it will be up to the Canadian Olympic Association (COA) to decide whether to pursue both bids, Lay feels that Canada is up to the task.

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