Challenges expected a year away from 2010 Olympics: VANOC
On the day to mark the one-year countdown to the 2010 Winter Olympics, organizers said the sporting event will represent not only an inspiration for all but also a much-needed stimulus package for the host.
John Furlong, president of the Vancouver Olympics organizing committee, known as VANOC, said Wednesday the next 365 days will be full of opportunities as well as challenges.
"Our view is that we will this year invest VANOC's money, $1.3 billion, into this community. Our partners will match that easily, and then there will be all of the visitors' spending that comes with that," said Furlong, who was in Whistler, B.C., for the countdown celebrations.
"The Olympic Games, not only are they going to be an enormously inspired event for the community and the country, but they are in effect going to be a much-needed stimulus package in this area."
Jacques Rogge, president of the International Olympic Committee, said that from what he has seen, the Games — which open exactly one year from Thursday — appear to be on track.
"I have been extremely pleased by the progress of the organization," Rogge told an evening news conference.
"All the infrastructure is almost ready.… We are in the full phase of the test events. The athletes and the federations tell us that these test events are very well organized. So I think everything bodes well for the future of the Games," he said.
Olympic officials will unveil the design of the Olympic torch in Whistler on Thursday morning at one of two major ceremonies. Between now and the start of the Games on Feb. 12, 2010, the torch will travel 45,000 kilometres across Canada through dozens of different climates and conditions in every province and territory.
In the suburbs of Vancouver, government and Olympic officials will gather for a celebration at the speedskating oval in Richmond, where Rogge will issue his official invitation to the world's athletes to come compete in 2010.
Not everything about the Vancouver Olympics has fallen in place, such as the final cost of security needed throughout the Games. Ottawa has said the cost of Olympic security will be in the billon-dollar range, far upward from an initial estimate of $175 million.
B.C. Premier Gordon Campbell said Wednesday that Colin Hansen, the province's finance minister and minister responsible for the Olympics, has been negotiating with federal officials.
"You have to wait for all the information to be there, and the province will meet its obligation. We've always said that," said Campbell, who was at a Whistler countdown activity Wednesday.
"We're interested and anxious to get the full cost of security from the province's perspective out," he said. "It's been a responsibility of the RCMP and it remains that. They'll make their own decisions as they go through this. Our share will be clear, and we'll let everyone know what it is."
The federal government will cover the entire cost of providing security at the border, at Vancouver International Airport and for international VIPs, while the B.C. government and federal government will split the cost of security for Olympic venues and athletes.
Hansen has said negotiations continue between the federal and provincial government to settle the details of what particular expenses should be included under each area of responsibility.
With files from the Canadian Press