While the Toronto 2008 Summer Olympic bid has held centre stage in Canada, an understudy has been quietly watching from the wings.

The group hoping to bring the 2010 Winter Olympics to Vancouver-Whistler has been studying the Toronto bid process, noting what worked and paying special attention to the mistakes.

"We've tried to learn what we can," said Marion Lay, chair of the Vancouver-Whistler 2010 Bid Corp.

"They have been sharing with our bid basically any information we have asked for. Part of it has been looking at those things they feel they have done well and those things they would have liked to have done differently."

The Toronto bid will play out its final act July 13 in Moscow when the International Olympic Committee announces which city will host the 2008 Games.

Once the decision is made, the Vancouver-Whistler group must decide what it will do for an encore.

Beijing is considered the front-runner to be awarded the 2008 Summer Games, although both Toronto and Paris are given a chance.

If Toronto fails to land the Games, the Vancouver-Whistler group can begin work on its estimated $23-million bid.

Should Toronto be successful, Vancouver-Whistler must make a decision.

They can go ahead with a full-blown bid attempt, knowing many in the IOC might be reluctant to host back-to-back Games in the same country, or make a reduced effort with the goal of laying the groundwork for landing the 2014 Winter Olympics.

"We'll have to consider in what format we'll go ahead," Lay said.

"It's whether or not we're going to go with a researching bid or are we going to go full force."

Among the important lessons Vancouver-Whistler has learned from Toronto:

  • Make athletes an intricate part of the process. Seek their opinions and involve them in strategy committees. "That has made their bid technically, and from the athletes' point of view, one of the best bids out there," Lay said.

  • Establish a secretariat so the various government departments have a mechanism to respond. The complexity of hosting an Olympics cuts a swatch through various federal, provincial and municipal agencies, ranging from security, to transportation, accommodation, health and immigration, Lay said. It's important to find an effective way to communicate with all these departments.

  • Explain how the Olympics will benefit the community, especially low-income and disadvantaged groups. Toronto's attempt to land the 1996 Games was tarnished by criticism from a group called Bread Not Circuses that complained to the IOC the money being lavished on the Olympics would be better spent on social programs. While the same group has been vocal again this year, the Toronto bid committee has tried to address their concerns. "They talked to us about the importance of ensuring the bid has a social responsibility component," Lay said.

  • Develop relationships with the IOC voting members. It's important for the bid committee to explain to IOC delegates why bringing the Games to Vancouver-Whistler will leave a sports legacy that will benefit both Canada and the Olympic movement in general, Lay said.

    During the Moscow meetings, the IOC will also elect a new president. Canadian Dick Pound is one of the men seeking to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch.

    Lay said whether Pound wins or losses the presidency shouldn't impact Vancouver-Whistler's bid attempt.

    "It would be wonderful if Dick Pound was the president of the IOC but I don't think it will have a direct impact if he's not voted in," she said.