Study puts positive spin on hosting Olympics

A new study commissioned by the Vancouver 2010 organizing committee reveals how the last three North American host cities have prospered from the Olympics

Organizers of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Winter Games will be issuing a report next week that details the economic and social benefits of staging the event.

The study, commissioned by the Vancouver Organizing Committee and conducted by independent journalist Kate Zimmerman, reveals how the last three North American host cities have prospered from the Olympics.

"We believe that there is a unique market and unique environment in North America," VANOC spokeswoman Renee Smith-Valade told reporters on Thursday.

Zimmerman studied the 1980 Lake Placid Winter Games, the 1988 Calgary Games and the 2002 Salt Lake City Games for six months, relying primarily on official releases, reports, articles, books and interviews.

"It is a very positive story, I think," she said.

Zimmerman concluded that the three host cities enjoyed increased tourism and sports participation, especially among children, and attracted more sports-related business.

She also noted that Canadian and American Olympians performed better on home turf.

"It is not propaganda, I am an independent researcher," Zimmerman said. "I went into this looking for interesting information about Olympic legacies and, if I had found absolute piles of terrible stuff, I would have had to put it in the report.

"Almost everything that people told me, or almost everything I read, was really positive."

But Chris Shaw of 2010 Watch dismissed the report as fluff, based on Zimmerman's sources.

"She looked at the official Games reports, which are hardly going to be negative," Shaw said. "She talked to senior leaders of the Olympics, who are hardly going to be negative.

"She cites studies, but she doesn't provide any references. [And] she talks about newspaper reports, which, of course, are usually very laudatory."

"It wasn't my mandate to seek out opponents," Zimmerman countered.

With files from the Canadian Press