2010 Vancouver Games face budget cuts amid global economic crisis
Last Updated: Tuesday, December 9, 2008 | 10:37 PM PT
The Canadian Press
Vancouver Olympic organizers have been warned by their board of directors not to be overzealous and make budget cuts that would compromise the spirit of the Games.
A revised budget for the 2010 Games was presented Tuesday to the board. It included cuts to money earmarked for accommodation and the banners and other elements that make up the "look" of the Olympics.
But the budget has gone back to the organizing committee over fear that too much was being chopped in an effort to deal with the global economic downturn.
"It's the question we asked the management team," said Jack Poole, the chairman of the board of directors.
"To be sure that in the endeavour to cut the fat out of the budget, you don't start cutting muscle and bone. Is there a chance you've gone too far? We don't think so, but is there a chance that you have, because that would be a mistake."
The current operational budget for the 2010 Winter Olympics is $1.62 billion, which does not include the $580 million for venues.
The operation of the Games is funded by ticket and merchandise sales, as well as sponsorship.
All three areas are going well for the organizing committee — it has raised $745 million of its $760 million sponsorship budget and requests for tickets have already topped $345 million.
Sponsors have made every payment, even those companies facing financial trouble like General Motors, said Dave Cobb, vice-president of marketing for the Olympic committee, known as VANOC.
Cobb even announced Tuesday they had signed up a new sponsor, to be named in the new year.
Still, everyone remains worried that something is going to go wrong as the economy tanks in Canada and around the world.
"We went through a process of identifying areas in our budget where we can be more efficient and reducing future hires is one area to free up some money in case those revenues don't come through," Cobb said.
"If we carry on and continue to be very successful, we'll have an opportunity, six months from now or whenever the time comes, to potentially add some things back, but at this stage we think we need to be more cautious."
Organizers are also cutting down on the number of staff who travel on behalf of the Games.
The revised budget will be released early next year after it gets final approval at the next board meeting.
"While we remain in a positive financial position despite the downturn in the economy, we know we will need to overcome challenges at some point so we are determined to be ready for any eventualities," said John Furlong, the chief executive officer of the organizing committee.
While Furlong has suggested organizers would like to cushion their contingency fund, Poole said Tuesday that might not be the case.
At Tuesday's meeting, the board also approved prototypes for the gold, silver and bronze medals athletes will receive at the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The designs are now before the International Olympic Committee and if approved, will be revealed late next year.
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